Taoiseach says he refuses to change lifestyle despite heightened threat from far-right

Taoiseach Says He Refuses To Change Lifestyle Despite Heightened Threat From Far-Right
Leo Varadkar said he did not think it would be good for the country if he was seen to be giving in to extremists. Photo: PA Images
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David Young, PA

The Taoiseach has vowed not change his lifestyle despite being warned of a heightened risk to his safety from far-right extremists.

Leo Varadkar said he would not give in to those who seek to intimidate politicians as he ruled out entering some form of security bubble.


Last year saw several events that raised concerns around the safety of elected representatives in Ireland.

There were a number of arrests outside the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin in September as far-right protesters heckled and threatened TDs, senators and staff members and tried to blockade an entrance.

Dublin city centre incident
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has warned the Taoiseach of a heightened risk to his personal safety (PA)


A mocked-up hanging gallows adorned with pictures of prominent politicians, including Mr Varadkar, was brought to the gates of the national parliament.

Demonstrators have also protested outside some politicians’ homes, with Mr Varadkar again a target.

The scenes of violence on the streets of Dublin on November 23rd during a far-right-influenced riot have further intensified safety concerns for elected representatives.

At his end-of-year media briefing, Mr Varadkar was asked about the risk to politicians and whether recent events have forced him to change his routine or habits.


Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks to the media at his end of year briefing (Niall Carson/PA)

“To be honest, I’ve kind of refused to change my life,” he said.

“I have been advised by the Garda Commissioner (Drew Harris) that the threat is higher and the risk to my personal safety is real, and that is the case for other ministers too.


“The Garda Commissioner has taken the decision to extend Garda protection to all members of cabinet, including the chief whip (Hildegarde Naughton) and Minister (Pippa) Hackett and Minister (Jack) Chambers, and that’s based on security assessments that the risk to politicians in terms of our safety is heightened.

“But I haven’t changed the way I live my life, nor will I.

“I’m not going to give in to it and, secondly, I see how other countries operate where politicians, ministers, prime ministers live in a security bubble and… really forget what it’s like just to do normal things and live a normal life.

“I don’t want to stop doing that, just for my own personal sense of being who I am. But, secondly, I don’t think it’d be a good thing for the country.


“I’ll keep on going to the cinema, I’ll keep on going to restaurants and bars, I’ll keep going to the gym, and I’m not willing to have that changed.”

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