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Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny denounces 'crazy' arson attack

Martin Kenny Image copyright RTE
Image caption Martin Kenny is the TD for Sligo-Leitrim

Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny has said an arson attack at his County Leitrim home was "crazy and traumatic".

The attack has been linked to his stance on asylum seekers being moved into the area.

He told local radio station, Ocean FM, that he and his family were awoken at 02:15 local time on Monday by hissing and cracking.

A residents' group opposed to the asylum seekers has condemned the incident and distanced itself from it.

When Mr Kenny looked out of the window of his house in Aughavas, he saw his car on fire.

His family - he has children aged between 15 and 20 - were in a panic and his attempts to douse the flames with a hose were useless, he added.

By the time the fire brigade came, the car was a ball of flames just feet from the front door.

The Sligo Leitrim TD said it had been "difficult and emotional" for his family.

'Criminal act'

Mr Kenny has been in the public eye over his support for a controversial proposal to accommodate 130 asylum seekers in Ballinamore, County Leitrim.

The Ballinamore Community Group had mounted a protest in opposition to the plan.

The group condemned the attack on Mr Kenny in "the strongest possible terms", calling it a "a criminal act".

"The people of Ballinamore have always conducted themselves in the right manner, " said the group's spokesman, Gordon Hughes, in a statement to Shannonside Northern Sound.

"We can all debate and that's what democracy is about - that people can express their opinions and are entitled to do so.

"Our thoughts go out to Deputy Kenny at this time."

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said the situation in Ballinamore had been tense and difficult.

He said local people were "decent and honest and reasonable", but that some people needed to look at what happens "when things get fired up".

"This is a struggle between a closed mindset and an open mindset, and I will always stand for an open mindset."

Irish police said they were continuing to investigate an incident of criminal damage by fire.

The investigation was at an early stage and a motive had not yet been established, said a Gardaí spokesperson.

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