Jim Shannon MP comments on the passing of Sir David Amess.
Strangford MP Jim Shannon has expressed his deep and sincere condolences to the family of Sir David Amess who was fatally stabbed during his constituency work.
Mr Shannon said: “This news is simply devastating. Sir David was the true epitome of a gentleman. He was kind, passionate, understanding and wise and he will be sorely missed in the House. He and I often walked through the lobbies together as we shared many of the same faith-based principles leading us to be in many APPGs in issues from Iran to endometriosis.
“His warmth will be missed greatly and my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time and in the dark days that lie ahead.
“I know David was passionate about the ability to meet with his constituents and whilst I can understand the need for some changes for those who feel they may need more safety, nothing can prevent us from carrying out our job which entails meeting with constituents and working through their problems.
“I carry out surgeries in different areas on Saturdays as well as my offices in Ards and Ballynahinch and this is an essential component of my performance as an MP. It is well publicised and I feel comfortable continuing this as I have done over the years when dissident threats hung over my head.
“There is a risk in every aspect of our lives and we must be wise, but I would not support any measures that preclude me being available when needed. Similarly when the idea of police escort is discussed, I do not feel this is the best use of that limited resource.
“When I have constituents tortured by anti-social behaviour and no police available to attend, people being the victims of burglaries and police taking hours to respond due to pressure, I would not be able to justify that officer being tasked to watch over me currently.
“In saying this I do believe that perhaps my staff in the office need greater protection in the form of a panic button and enhanced door locks and I am looking into this. An issue that has intensified recently is the abusive nature that some people choose to frame their rhetoric in.
“Whilst I am certainly equipped to deal with this verbal abuse, the abuse that my staff members take, two of whom are in their twenties, is not acceptable and won’t be accepted.”
Mr Shannon added: “We seem to have come to a place where respect is out the window and the greatest protection for MPs will not be found in a PSNI car but will be found when people remember that we are not simply a faceless institution but are human beings deserving of respect.