Minister for State Shane McEntee will be buried in his native Meath on Monday – as friends and colleagues continue to claim cyber bullying and criticism aired on radio shows contributed to his suicide.
The 56-year-old father of three took his own life on Friday just weeks after he was at the center of a political storm over budget cutbacks on respite care grants.
McEntee had told one newspaper: “You could stay in a top hotel for €700 a week. People just have to get on with it.”
The Sunday Independent reports that former Fine Gael deputy John Farrelly and current Roscommon representative Frank Feighan have both pointed to the criticism as a factor in McEntee’s decision to commit suicide.
Fellow Meath man Farrelly told the paper that the ‘abuse’ directed towards McEntee on social media websites was a factor in his tragic death.
Farrelly said: “Shane was desperately upset by a barrage of online abuse that followed comments the late minister had made in relation to cuts to
the respite care grant.
“We didn’t talk about it that much, other than for him to say that ‘this respite thing, they are destroying me’.”
Roscommon based Fine Gael deputy Feighan, said: “I feel that there is a frenzy out there and I feel a lot of it is generated through social media.
“I think it is something that we all have to contend with. It is an issue that must stop. I don’t mind people having reasoned debate, but this seems to be frenzied, continued and is causing huge concern not just for politicians, but their families.”
Several friends told the Sunday Independent that Minister McEntee was under stress at the time of his death and had agreed to see a doctor.
Former Meath footballer and family friend Colm O’Rourke wrote in the paper: “He was more than a party man, he loved people. People want to blame someone for every fault and politicians in general are treated badly. . . It is totally unfair and unjustifiable and Shane at times had not a tough enough skin. . .
“Mainly he tried to do too much, he gave willingly of everything he had and felt badly if he was not able to solve all problems.”
Fellow politicians have also commented on McEntee’s death and admitted that they are under more public scrutiny and criticism than ever before.
Labor Party junior Minister Kathleen Lynch said: “All politicians are coming under enormous pressure from the public.
“The type of pressure politicians are under is different to what it
used to be. Shane’s death should tell every one of us that politicians are human.”
Independent deputy Finian McGrath said: “Behind every public representative is a private individual. There is a lot of hostility towards all public representatives at the moment, and some of them and their families find that hard to deal with.