Seanad debates

Monday, 22 March 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Sharon KeoganSharon Keogan (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I commend Senator Martin on mentioning the photocall tomorrow. I call on Members of both Houses to come out to the plinth at 12 o'clock tomorrow to support the reopening of our churches and allow those of all faiths to worship safely.

I will talk this morning about the ugly side of choosing a career in politics, specifically the vile criminal abuse, harassment and intimidation that politicians can be subjected to by some individuals. We can all expect a certain amount of jousting in this career in the form of robust debate, hard questions being asked of us and clear answers being demanded. We expect scrutiny and criticism from our political opponents, the media, interested groups and the public. What one does not necessarily expect is to be subjected to campaigns of abuse and terror just for doing one's job and serving the community as best one can.

This type of abuse can even result in a politician and his or her family living in fear and not feeling safe in their own home. The experiences of Independent councillor and Mayor of Galway city, Mike Cubbard, serve as a sobering reminder of how far abuse can go. He and his family have endured an 18-month long campaign of abuse and harassment. Threats that his home will be burned down have been made to him and his family. I understand a Garda investigation is now under way, but I am extremely dismayed by the fact the abuse has seemingly been allowed to continue for so long before it has been taken seriously.

We cannot permit or tolerate this happening to politicians or to anyone for that matter. It is simply unacceptable in a civilised society and in a parliamentary democracy with the rule of law. We must take decisive action to eliminate this kind of abuse and bring perpetrators to justice. We must also ensure that online abuse is tackled aggressively. We owe that to each other, our colleagues, our families and, importantly, to future generations of politicians so they can pursue a career in politics without being in fear.


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