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Gardai investigate political links to fire attack on chief whip's constituency office

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Paul Kehoe TD and Fine Gael county councillor Larry O'Brien at Mr Kehoe's office in New Ross, Co Wexford which was broken into

Paul Kehoe TD and Fine Gael county councillor Larry O'Brien at Mr Kehoe's office in New Ross, Co Wexford which was broken into

Paul Kehoe TD and Fine Gael county councillor Larry O'Brien at Mr Kehoe's office in New Ross, Co Wexford which was broken into

GOVERNMENT chief whip Paul Kehoe has vowed to re-open his constituency office after it was burgled and damaged by fire.

Gardai are investigating whether the burning of constituency files in his office in New Ross in Wexford in the early hours of Friday morning was politically motivated.

It is the latest in a series of incidents at the constituency offices of government TDs – with one other Fine Gael TD revealing that thugs had urinated on her office and smeared excrement on the windows.

Mr Kehoe said he would be working to re-open the rented office within the next two weeks.

"This is not going to deter me from operating in New Ross," he added.

The office of Martin Lawlor, a solicitor in the town and a Fine Gael party organiser, was also burgled and set on fire.

Two men, aged 21 and 33, are being held by gardai in connection with incidents.

Mr Kehoe only opened the constituency office last November, having already had an office in Enniscorthy. The intruders broke in through a side window and took out constituency files which had been locked away in the back office. They then set fire to the files.

Abusive

Meanwhile, it emerged that Dublin South Central TD Catherine Byrne has stepped up security at her constituency office after thugs urinated on it and smeared excrement on the windows.

And abusive remarks about her were sprayed on to the pavement outside the office in Inchicore in Dublin.

Ms Byrne said she was putting in a new security shutter to protect her office.

"I'm just fed up with it at this stage. They were urinating through the shutter and putting all sorts of stuff in through the gaps in it at night-time," she said.

Last week, she also had to close her constituency office on the advice of gardai while an anti-property tax protest was taking place.

The protesters covered the shutter on her office with posters containing abusive messages.

Ms Byrne said it was not fair on staff and constituents who had to use her office.

"At the end of the day, people have to be able to go in and out of your office," she said.

Irish Independent