Updated: 20/04/17 : 07:00:06
Gardaí in Limerick are investigating death threats made to Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who took criminal gangs to task over their horse ownership.
Detectives are probing two incidents, one of which was a threat from a gang member to shoot the deputy after he intervened to try and solve the problem of wandering horses in the tough estate of Moyross on Limerick’s northside.
The other incident saw a vile threat made to staff working for the first time TD in his constituency office in Limerick City Centre.
Mr Quinlivan confirmed “two serious threats” were made, which the gardaí are now investigating.
However, he insisted: “Nobody will frighten me off the street. It comes as part of the job.”
The death threats were disclosed by his party colleague Cllr John Costelloe at a meeting of Limerick City and County Council.
Cllr Costelloe — who took Mr Quinlivan’s local authority seat after his election to the Dáil — said: “He raised an issue about horses, and a gang member in Moyross threatened him that he was going to be shot. He obviously had to report it to the gardaí.”
He criticised the “criminal element” who own horses, saying: “These people are riding roughshod over the whole community. They cannot dictate the policy of council either. The council has a responsibility to do its best for the local area.”
Mr Quinlivan says he has received abuse on a number of occasions while walking around his local area, but described the death threats he and his staff received as “outrageous and unacceptable”.
“Young lads would threaten you all the time. I get abuse on the street in Thomondgate, and I’d confront them [young lads] about it. I tell them I will walk around the area whenever I want to, and they generally move off when I say this.
“But getting a death threat like this is something else,” he said.
Horses are allowed graze in estates across Limerick illegally, with the council refusing to give out licences to allow them.
It has led to calls for a horse project to allow a legal space for these creatures to be cared for responsibly.
But the Sinn Féin TD says this will only solve part of the problem.
“There are guys who deal with horses and they are decent people. But there is an element without a doubt who feel they can do what they want,” he said.
“There has to be some solution found. But you sometimes have do-gooders coming from more well-off areas, and they think a horse project will solve the problem. But in my opinion, they’re living in cloud cuckoo land. I support a horse project, there should be one, but it will only be a tiny part of solving the issue.”
Mr Quinlivan said he believes he is not the only public representative to have been threatened.
“Dealing with the horse problem in Limerick is a very difficult issue. People have been threatened. I don’t believe I would be the only public representative to have been threatened in this way,” he said.