Justice Minister Alan Shatter has controversially claimed that former heads of government should pay for their own special security.

He spoke out following a crutch attack on former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.  The attack in a pub on Friday night uncovered previous angry confrontations between members of the public and Ahern.

Mobile security protection for former Taoisigh (Prime Ministers) was removed two years ago as a cost-cutting measure by the coalition government headed by Enda Kenny.

Ahern has 24-hour Garda (police) protection at his home in Drumcondra in Dublin, but an armed Garda detective who acted as his bodyguard and driver was withdrawn from him and other former taoisigh in 2011.

Shatter said it was the responsibility of former leaders to hire their own additional security.

The Irish Independent reported him as saying, “There are some former [taoisigh] receiving very substantial sums of money from the state who are in the position to arrange that for themselves.”  Ahern currently receives a pension worth around €136,000 ($184,000) per year.

The attack on Friday in the Dublin city center pub Sean O’Casey’s, where Ahern was attending a farewell function for a civil servant, was launched by father of two Ray Connolly after a reference to the “good old days” by Ahern.

Connolly later admitted regretting his assault and that he had consumed three pints. Initial reports said Ahern was struck on the head, although he was uninjured, but a pub patron later insisted the crutch struck the bar counter instead.

Connolly was evicted from the pub and arrested outside for a minor public order offense when he was abusive to a Garda.

His mother Peggy described him in the Irish Sun as the “village idiot.”

It emerged over the weekend that Ahern has been subjected to a spate of verbal hate attacks in recent months.  He was also sent a rope in the post with a suggestion that he use it to hang himself.