Sunday 22 September 2019

Armed gardai to 'shadow' ministers amid safety fears

The security arrangements for all ministers have been beefed up following a review
The security arrangements for all ministers have been beefed up following a review

Paul Williams, Niall O'Connor and Fionnan Sheahan

Armed detectives have been drafted in to 'shadow' senior Government ministers at public engagements due to increasing concerns for their safety.

Senior gardai have also compiled a detailed intelligence report which states that the anti-water charges protests have been infiltrated by Eirigi and other anarchist groups.

The news comes as it emerged Tanaiste Joan Burton has provided a formal statement to gardai after she and her staff were trapped in her car for more than two hours at a water charges protest in Tallaght, west Dublin on Saturday.

Sources told the Irish Independent that some protesters responsible for Ms Burton's ordeal face the prospect of being charged with false imprisonment and other offences against the person.

The Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) are to investigate the circumstances of the Tallaght protest on Saturday.

Officers will also examine all footage from the protest which was uploaded to the internet.

The Labour Party leader and a number of her staff met gardai at her office in Government Buildings yesterday, her official spokesperson confirmed.

During the meeting, Ms Burton detailed the abuse she received outside an educational event in Jobstown.

Speaking in the Dail yesterday, Ms Burton revealed that the windscreen of a second car in which she was travelling had been broken amid violent scenes.

She later told 'Newstalk' that she got a "bad bang" on the back of her head during the water charge protest.

"I got a bad bang on the back of my neck. It's a bit like people who play sport, it's a bit stiff but it's OK.

"My personal adviser has worked with me now for four years. She was with me in the car as well. She never experienced anything like it.

Rough

"They gave her a very rough time as well and she was obviously quite upset."

A number of threats made against Government ministers, in particularly Environment Minister Alan Kelly, are now subject of a series of garda investigations.

In one case, a bomb threat was received by Mr Kelly's Nenagh office. He has also received three other death threats.

The security arrangements for all ministers have been beefed up following a review.

Gardai are now carrying out threat assessments, including analysis of intelligence reports, prior to all public engagements by senior figures in the Government.

"Many of these people don't care about water charges, they only want to start riots in the streets and undermine the rule of law," a senior source said.

Irish Independent

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