Welsh politicians have spoken publicly this weekend on fears for their own safety, following the death of Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

Amess, MP for Southend West, was stabbed 17 times during a constituency meeting on Friday at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea. He is the second member of parliament to be murdered in five years, after Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a constituent with links to far right extremism in 2016.

A suspect has been arrested on suspicion of Amess' murder and is being held under the Terrorism Act, though the motivation for the attack remains unclear.

Politicians across the country have paid respects this weekend, and spoken of the balance that must be struck between security and remaining accessible to the public. 

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts praised Sir David's work as a parliamentarian on BBC's Politics Wales programme this morning, calling him a "welcoming, kind and gentle man".

The National Wales: Liz Saville-Roberts told the BBC this morning that democracy must be defended Liz Saville-Roberts told the BBC this morning that democracy must be defended

She confirmed that her own security arrangements had been reviewed after the killing of Jo Cox, but said that a conspicuous police presence at her constituency surgeries would be neither practical nor desirable.

"The magnificent virtue of democracy is that we [express disagreement] with words, not with weapons," Saville-Roberts added.

"We need to protect our democracy, and we have to allow variations of views to come through.

"We need to keep hold of the fact that democracy is precious, because the alternative is violence, and oppression by the most powerful majority."

Her Plaid Cymru colleagues in the Senedd have also paid their respects this weekend.

Leader Adam Price said on Friday that Amess was "one of the kindest, most decent and deeply committed politicians [he's] ever known."

"It was an honour to call him a friend," Price added. 

 

 

 Simon Hart, Welsh Secretary and Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said this morning that all of his colleagues had experienced either "alarming incidents" at constituency meetings or online "abuse or intimidation".

He echoed Saville-Roberts' emphasis on the need for MPs to remain accessible to the public, calling it "a fundamental part of being a decent member of parliament". 

 

Fellow Conservative Gareth Davies, MS for the Vale of Clwyd, called Amess's death "a terrible price to pay for being a conscientious, long serving and accessible public servant."

South Wales West MS Tom Giffard said: "I hope that others present at the time of this shocking incident get the support they need."

The National Wales: The Welsh Conservative leader is currently on leave to recover from Covid and poor mental health The Welsh Conservative leader is currently on leave to recover from Covid and poor mental health

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies, who is currently on leave for health reasons, said: "Shocked, appalled and devastated to hear Sir David Amess MP has passed away.

"He served with pride as MP for almost four decades, representing his constituents and our country with loyalty and dedication.

"My thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.

"May he rest in peace."

 

Solidarity was offered by Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent Alun Davies, as well as Rhondda MP  Chris Bryant, who suggested that Twitter users should "send a kind message" to a politician they disagree with.

Bryant published an opinion piece with The Guardian on Friday, calling for an end to social media anonymity, and for another review of MP's security arrangements.

First Minister Mark Drakeford called Amess's killing "a despicable and horrifying act".

The National Wales: Economy Minister Vaughan Gething spoke to BBC's Politics Wales this morningEconomy Minister Vaughan Gething spoke to BBC's Politics Wales this morning

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething, speaking to Politics Wales this morning, linked the incident with the polarisation of politics over recent years. He said it was a "challenge for us all" to avoid using dehumanising language towards political opponents. 

"It's a good thing in politics generally, that our politicians are available for the members of the public that we serve," Gething added.

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"But it's not the first incident.

"We don't know enough about what's happened here individually, but it does give real cause for concern, and that goes across parties."

Gething told the programme that security had been more on his mind since last week's protest against Covid passes, which saw a small group of protestors briefly block the exits of the Senedd.

A meeting to discuss security concerns will be held this week at the Senedd.

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