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02 Dec 2021

Leitrim TD says incidence of threatening calls and online abuse is on the rise

Deputy Martin Kenny's planning amendment bill passes to Committee Stage

Deputy Martin Kenny

Last week some elements of the national media reported that a gun threat had been made against the Dáil office of local TD, Martin Kenny.
However, speaking with the Leitrim Observer, Deputy Kenny has clarified that some national media had gotten some elements of the story incorrect.
“Some of the national media presented the incident as a threat directly towards my office which wasn't really what happened,” he said.
“It involved threats against the gardai and Leinster House but not myself or any TD in particular.”
He said that regardless this incident was “still quite intimidating” and his personal assistant, who took the call, was shaken by it.
Deputy Kenny said that the phone call had been received at 11am to his office in Leinster House last week.
The caller was a man from the southern counties of the country who, Deputy Kenny said “had a gripe with local gardai in his area”.
“He also complained about GSOC and other state agencies he felt were not protecting his rights,” explained the Sinn Féin TD.
“The call was made at 11am and the caller sounded sober and sincere. As the conversation went on the man became more and more agitated and he subsequently made threats against the gardai and Leinster House which involved the use of a gun.”
The man provided his details to Deputy Kenny's personal assistant during the call and after the call was finished a decision was made to report the matter to the authorities in the Oireachtas and to the gardai.
Deputy Kenny stressed this wasn't a threat against him personally or his office or towards any TD, “but was a more general threat against Leinster House and the gardai”.
“I understand that the gardai have spoken to the man who made the call as part of an investigation into the matter,” said Deputy Kenny.
“While this wasn't a direct threat against my office it does highlight the fact that there is a growing number of people who think it is acceptable to ring public representatives or government bodies and level abuse and threats against staff,” he said.
Deputy Kenny pointed out that “rarely a week goes by where people who, for example, have grievances with the justice system, contact our office. Some get very agitated and become very abrupt and insulting towards my staff. This is not unusual, it is the same for all TDs and their offices.
“We often have people who are less than respectful when they are getting their point across. In this instance, this man, went further and we had no option but to report the matter to the authorities.”
Deputy Kenny said that the trend towards threatening politicians, their staff, or government officials is become more and more common adding “that is both dangerous and disappointing”.
He said that a lot of the people who make these sort of calls are also the same people who regularly post insulting or abusive content on social media.
“Unfortunately people do this on social media and nothing happens to stop it and then they think it is ok to ring up a public office and treat people in the same disrespectful way,” observed Deputy Kenny.
He said that social media platforms have an obligation to ensure that people who post offensive or threatening content are dealt with appropriately and any sort of intimidation should not be tolerated.

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