Safety fears | 

Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny and family ‘no option’ but to move home after ‘traumatising’ attacks

The Kennys are planning to relocate following an arson attack and an incident that saw a car drive through their gates and into the garage

Martin Kenny and his wife and family pictured outside their County Leitrim home. Pic: Brian Farrell.

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

A Leitrim-based TD and his family are being forced out of their home after some “traumatising” incidents left them fearing for their safety.

Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/Leitrim Martin Kenny lives in Aughavas, Co Leitrim with his wife Helen and their four children: Eoin (23), Eabha (21), Claire (20), and Pearse (18).

Deputy Kenny’ family are planning to sell their house and relocate to Carrick-On-Shannon following an arson attack in 2019 as well as an incident that saw a car drive through their electric gates and into the garage in September.

He said that he doesn’t want to leave the area he’s lived in his entire life but feels like he’s been left with no choice.

“We are in the process of moving,” he told The Sligo Champion this week.

“We are preparing to sell our house and move but we have not yet found anywhere else to go yet.

“I am from Aughavas and it is a very rural area and we have had a few incidents in the past few years and then a vehicle drove through our gates a few months ago... These incidents have traumatised all of us.

“Helen is finding it very difficult to cope on her own as I am often in Dublin and our children are all now away at college.

“So, we decided we would move to Carrick-On-Shannon or as close as possible to it.

“It is never easy to leave your native place, but you have to be practical about it”.

He continued: “We live in the quiet rural area of Aughavas, equal distance from Ballinamore, Mohill and Carrigallen in South Leitrim.

“We have no option and we had to try and do something, and it is very traumatising for the family.

“The Kenny family have always lived in this area. We have lived here for generations and the gardai said we could put in a panic button but that would only ring in Carrick-On-Shannon which is half an hour away and that would not be much good.

“The gardai are doing their best but we don’t expect people to watching over us 24/7 but we are just very isolated, and our house is very close to the road, and we are very vulnerable”.

Deputy Kenny said his wife was left “terrified” after a car crashed through their electric gates at 2am on September 29 last, knocking them down and colliding with the garage.

A 49-year-old man appeared before the courts charged with damaging the gates and dangerous driving.

He is on bail on the conditions that he does not go near the Kenny family or their home.

Kenny explained that Helen was home alone at the time and has been too scared to stay in the house by herself since.

“She heard this crash last September and got up in the middle of the night and realised that there was someone outside.

“Helen was at home alone that night, as I was in Dublin and the young ones away at college.

“She was terrified, let out the dog and found that a man in a vehicle had crashed into the garage.

“Helen went out and discovered the man injured in the van and called emergency services for him. This was a terrible trauma that Helen is finding difficult to overcome.

“I am not staying in Dublin and have been coming home at night since it happened, as Helen is too fearful to stay at home alone.

“We are grateful that the Gardai are patrolling the road regularly, but resources are being pulled into a very rural area and our family are aware that Gardaí cannot be here all the time.”

The electric gates were installed at Deputy Kenny’s home shortly after his car was burned in an arson attack in October 2019, during a time of protests and objection to refugees being housed in Ballinamore.

“Strangely enough, the arson on my car was different and made it easier for us, as we were all at home when it happened.

“At that time, you could drive right into the front of the house, and it was only afterwards that I put up gates and the gardai said afterwards that it was done by a person who knew how to burn cars.

“So that was very traumatic too as it could have burned the house, but it cracked the windows in the front of the house, and it cracked the front door.

“When the car was burned three years ago, we told ourselves it was a once-off and nothing like that would ever happen again, but then it does happen and since then, every noise at night and passing car puts Helen’s heart beating faster.

“In fact, the focus of preparing to sell and looking at houses on, has become a welcome distraction from continuous talking about the recent incident and what other madness could happen.”

Despite an intensive Garda investigation, nobody has been arrested over the burning of the car, or the attempted arson at the refugee accommodation centre in Ballinamore two weeks before.

“I may never find out who carried out the arson at my home, but I know that the fear and hatred and aggression generated at the time has haunted us as a family since.”

Despite the traumatic incidents, Deputy Kenny insisted that he has no intention of giving up life as a public representative.

“I have the great privilege to be elected and to try to make things better for people in this constituency and contribute to building a new Ireland.

“My family understand and value this rare opportunity being part of our lives.

“We may have to change where we live and many people must adapt to change, but we will remain united as a family and determined to overcome these difficulties and I am determined to continue to work in politics, as long as I get elected.”

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