Laois county councillors have adopted a tougher policy for visitors to county hall, after staff received serious personal threats.
Anyone who repeatedly breaks the policy code may now be barred from any contact for over six months, with the council deciding how much contact can be made.
The new policy was proposed by Sinn Féin Cllr Caroline Dwane at the May council meeting, who described the type of serious threats made to staff.
“If adopted, will the council enforce it? We are all aware of people in housing being threatened, being told ‘I know where you live, what your car registration is”. We have to send a clear message, and if that means going to court so be it,” she said.
Director of Services Donal Brennan said the policy “strengthens the council’s hand” in dealing with abusive customers, and will protect staff and customers from inappropriate behaviour.
"It's a very important matter. We have taken legal advice on it. One of its purposes is to ensure that staff and customers are protected against behaviour that isn't appropriate. We intend to ensure it is operated properly," he said.
Cllr Willie Aird said the message should go out that county hall is a public building "yes but only if you behave".
"Unless you follow through, we might as well put this in the shredder," he said.
The problem has worsened dur to Laois' housing crisis, with more and more people and families forced to present themselves as homeless at county hall, but with little places to house them. There are over 1,300 names on the council's housing waiting list.
See more details on the new customer behaviour policy on our story here.