Monday 20 November 2017

Ahern's pension enough to pay for security – Shatter

Lise Hand and Michael Brennan

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has said that former Taoisigh like Bertie Ahern should pay for extra security themselves from their €100,000-plus pensions.

It came after Mr Ahern was attacked by a man wielding a crutch in a Dublin pub last weekend.

He has 24-hour garda protection at his home in Drumcondra – but the perk of having an armed garda detective who acted as his bodyguard and driver was withdrawn from him and other former politicians in 2011.

When asked if there would be a review of their protection, Mr Shatter put the responsibility on former Taoisigh themselves to hire additional security.

"There are some former Taoisigh receiving very substantial sums of money from the State, who I would think should they need an independent driver or some additional security, are in the position to arrange that for themselves," he said.

Mr Ahern currently receives a combined TD and ministerial pension worth around €136,000. However, Mr Shatter said even though people might be angry at decisions made by Mr Ahern's previous government, no member of any previous government should be physically attacked.

Mr Shatter rejected any suggestion that the removal of garda cars from former Taoisigh in 2011 had anything to do with the alleged attack on Mr Ahern.

"It was determined that it wasn't necessary that former Taoiseach be driven by members of An Garda Siochana. There's only three members of Cabinet who for security reasons are provided by garda cars and garda drivers – that's the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and myself as Minister for Justice," he said.

It came as Dubliner Ray Connolly spoke publicly again about swinging his crutch at Mr Ahern in the Sean O'Casey pub off O'Connell Street in Dublin last Friday. A patron of the pub has said the former Taoiseach was not injured as the crutch only connected with the counter.

CRUTCH

Mr Connolly said he had directed his crutch at Mr Ahern but did not say whether he had actually hit him.

"That's for another day," he said. He said he had not been drunk at the time.

"I am not a violent man. I apologise if I caused Bertie any upset," he told RTE's 'Liveline'.

Mr Connolly is not facing any charges as a result of the incident because Mr Ahern has not made any complaint.

Mr Connolly has been using a crutch since he was involved in a car crash back in July 2012, which resulted in him getting a broken ankle and a broken pelvis. He said he was currently on illness benefit.

Irish Independent

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