Laois County Council have hired private security guards for county hall, because of “an increase in a number of incidents” at the reception area.
The decision to appoint a security firm followed an incident in January, when angry protesters against Irish Water gained entry to a private corridor and refused to leave, with staff eventually calling the Gardaí to remove them.
Social housing staff are also reported to be “under severe pressure meeting people”, it was heard at the February council meeting.
County councillors, some who had faced the wrath of the protesters, condemned the increase in incidents at their meeting yesterday, Monday February 23.
“Staff have been under threat, thankfully the Gardaí were here in a couple of seconds, but it’s a sad sign of the times, society breaking down again,” said Cllr Willie Aird.
Cllr Tom Mulhall said there “was nothing wrong with protesting”.
“I’ve done it myself with the IFA, but it was disgraceful what happened here, we had meetings from 2pm to 4pm that we couldn’t attend, and staff were held up after their lunch, it was uncalled for, coming in, knocking down doors, threatening staff and using abusive language,” he said.
“If you lose respect for your council, you lose respect for your own people,” said Cllr John King.
County Hall say they have “a legal obligation to provide and maintain a safe place of work for our employees”, and for their customers.
The security firm was hired on a month’s trial, starting last Monday February 16, to stand guard in reception during office hours.
“Other additional safety measures are being examined and the council will continue to review the situation over the coming weeks”, the council states.