Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has spoken of the “number of threats” made against him that the Gardaí “believed were real”.
Mr Varadkar, who culminated at the National Plowing Championships over next month’s move to equip all ministers with Garda drivers, said: “My understanding is that the Commissioner believes there is a need for more ministers to have better protection have, and ultimately he’s the person with the information, with the knowledge of the threat level, and that’s the call he’s making.”
Asked if he personally felt safe, Mr Varadkar said: ‘I feel safe because you know that as a tánaiste I have more protection. But you will be aware of the number of threats made against me by the Garda [Síochána] believed to be real.
“Of course I’m aware of that, but I’m very grateful to have Garda Protection and I don’t feel insecure at all.
Minister of State Martin Heydon commented that he had no Garda driver, adding: “And this is a recommendation for Cabinet Ministers. And you know, I trust the Garda Commissioner to make his decisions on this.”
Meanwhile, when asked if he now accepts he won’t get the 30 per cent tax rate he had proposed to help middle-income earners keep more of their pay, Mr Varadkar said: “That was one Option that I asked to be considered and the job was done.
“So we know it’s possible that it would benefit a million people. We also know it may take some time to roll out. And we have to take that into account in our decisions, which we haven’t yet made on the budget.
“But I would say: Let’s not forget the principle here. And here the principle applies that from my point of view, and from the point of view of most people in my opinion, it is very unfair that people with average and even below-average incomes, people with over 37,000 euros, have to pay taxes at the highest rate of VAT.
“It’s not common across Europe. In the UK this is not the case. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage when we try to attract talent from within the country. And I wish fewer people would have to pay that higher rate. And I would like to see more people get a raise, get a raise, be able to work overtime without losing about half their income to taxes and PRSI.”
When asked whether reintroducing Garda drivers for ministers, which were abolished in 2012 due to austerity measures, during the cost-of-living crisis was a good idea, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “A review has been carried out into the vulnerability of politicians to attack , attack and so on. So this is a security question. The Commissioner insists in the security advice I have been given that if this is not done there is a risk for senior ministers. And that is the bottom line behind it.”
He also said now may be the moment to “reset” the relationship between the Irish government and its British counterpart and build on the spirit of soft power wielded by the late Queen Elizabeth.
At the National Plowing Championship, Mr Martin said he had a “warm meeting” with Britain’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, while he was in London for “a few days” to attend the funeral following the “very sad death of Queen Elizabeth”. to participate.
He said there was a sense of the “gentle power” the Queen exercised and the “prominent” contribution she made.
“I’m not going to comment on any issue, but the mood seems to be that we can move on and solve problems,” he said.
Attorney General Helen McEntee, who was also present at the plowing championships, said Garda Commissioner Drew Harris takes the safety of ministers very seriously.
“Obviously their safety is under constant review,” Ms McEntee said.
“The reports have been submitted to me and to the government and I will not really comment further on them.”
She declined to comment on the cost of the move.
“But we have a report, and of course we take these reports very seriously, as do the Taoiseach and the government, and we will respond to that report.
“This is a security measure and I think any security issue brought to us by the Garda Commissioner we must take seriously.”
“We do that. I cannot comment further on this. But obviously everything that happens after this report is up to the government.
“I take these matters seriously, this is a serious issue and it is a security issue.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/tanaiste-leo-varadkar-feels-very-grateful-he-has-garda-protection-with-threats-made-against-him-42007618.html Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is very grateful to be protected by Garda as ‘threats’ have been made against him