Bertie 'can use pension to pay for his security'
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has bluntly told former taoiseach Bertie Ahern to use his State pension to pay for personal security.
Mr Ahern has been the victim of a number of hate attacks in recent months – but he will get little sympathy from the minister.
On Saturday the Herald reported that the Dubliner was assaulted in a pub by a man wielding a crutch. He has also received a noose in the post.
In the past ex-taoisigh were afforded a Garda driver, however the current Government did away with the expensive perk.
Asked if this could be reviewed in light of these and other incidents, Mr Shatter replied: "There are some former taoisigh who are receiving very substantial sums of money from the State who, I would think, should they need an independent driver or some additional security, are in a position to arrange that themselves."
The minister said he relies on advice from gardai as to what security measures are required by former taoisigh.
Mr Ahern, who receives a State pension of around €135,000, was allegedly attacked by a man wielding a crutch in a city centre pub on Friday.
Mr Shatter pointed out the Government decided when it was fresh in office to limit the number of Garda cars used in politics.
He said: "It was determined that it wasn't necessary that former taoisigh be driven by members of An Garda Siochana.
"There are only three members of Cabinet who for security reasons are provided with Garda cars with drivers – that's the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and myself as Minister for Justice for security reasons."
Mr Shatter added he understands people are "angry and upset" by decisions made by former taoiseach Mr Ahern and his government, but it is important they obey the law.
He warned: "There are tens of thousands of people in this country suffering the consequences of decisions made.
"But that doesn't mean that any member of any previous government should be the object of any physical attack or any unlawful conduct by any individual."
He noted people have the right to go about their lives and that gardai will act appropriately should anyone act unlawfully.
He said he would in no way condone "any individual being the object of any assault".
And he rejected any suggestion that the removal of Garda cars from former taoisigh in 2011 had anything to do with the alleged attack on Mr Ahern.
He added: "I don't think any of these issues that I have been reading about have any relevance to anybody being driven anywhere."