A Waterford TD has revealed that she has been the subject of a death threat in recent months.
Speaking to Damien Tiernan on Deise Today, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD (Fianna Fail) made the revelation in light of recent unsavoury scenes at Leinster House which saw 13 people arrested as a result.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin on Thursday labelled the conduct of protesters at a recent demonstration at Leinster House as “fascist-like behaviour”, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said threats are being made against politicians by people who have a history of violence and convictions.
A senior Garda officer has been appointed to lead an investigation into the protests outside the Dáil on Wednesday that led to 13 arrests.
The demonstration attracted around 200 participants and resulted in a number of TDs requiring Garda escort from Leinster House. Gardaí confirmed that 13 people had been charged, including two men (40s) who were brought before the court.
Following the protests on Wednesday, two women (30s and 40s), and nine men ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s are due at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin at a later, unspecified date, gardaí said.
Those who took part raised various issues including immigration, Covid-19 vaccines, transgender rights, sex education in schools and proposed hate-speech laws. The protest, which at one stage included the erection of a mock gallows, drew condemnation from several politicians.
Speaking on Deise Today, Minister Butler recounted her gratitude to Gardai following what has been an admittedly frightening period.
"Have I been targeted? I already have been targeted. Am I worried? Yes, I am. I don't want to make this about me. Unfortunately, some politicians in Leinster House - both in the Dail and the Seanad, have given a platform to this hatred and these conspiracy theories. They are sharing their narrative and that's very distressing. I have to thank the Gardai in Waterford who have been extremely good to me in the last 18 months - especially since I have become a Minister."
"When you're a Minister for Mental Health, there is a lot of correspondence coming in and it comes from some very vulnerable people", she explained. "All of that correspondence has to be verified to see if it is a significant threat. I've had a death threat over me during the summer. I've had a situation where Gardai recommended for three weeks that I didn't travel anywhere on my own - and as much as possible to stay at home."
Minister Butler also revealed that she has had to make significant security changes to her constituency office in West Waterford and has also been advised to take precautions in relation to social media.
"I don't publicly talk about this because I'm not trying to be a victim here. I don't want to be a victim", reiterated Minister Butler. "All democratically elected people have a mandate and we should be entitled to go about our work. The Gardai - and they have offered this to all elected politicians - they have reviewed their safety and they have been in both my offices and my home. They have recommendations to me and made changes. You can no longer just walk into my office now after knocking on the door. You have to make an appointment. I had to change the door of my Dungarvan office to one with a peephole. It is recommended that I do not travel anywhere on my own. When I go to events, it has been recommended that I do not advertise that I am attending any particular event."
To listen to the full interview, you can go to the podcast page here.