Use of handcuffs to detain any woman exceptional
Clare Daly: unhappy both with treatment she received from gardaí and by the leaking of information
The complaint by Clare Daly TD to the Garda Ombudsman will shine a light on the arrest process.
Senior gardaí I spoke to said they were surprised handcuffs had been used. They said women would be handcuffed only for serious offences and, even in those cases, only if they were behaving violently or presented a risk to the safety of gardaí on the scene.
Indeed, in the Garda code regulations, a number of suspect types are exempted from being handcuffed on arrest, save only in exceptional circumstances. These include children, older people, soldiers in uniform and women.
Ms Daly’s detention in a cell at the Garda station does not, on the face of it, seem to
stray outside normal policing practice. Drink-driving suspects must be observed for 20 minutes in a station before they give a blood or urine sample to establish if they were driving under the influence.
This period is designed to ensure the suspect does not consume alcohol in the period after arrest. And the placing of a suspect in a cell for that period is not unusual, according to a number of Garda sources.
Ms Daly’s allegation that she was later told to come back when she was sober will be tested during the ombudsman’s investigation.
If proven true, it would most likely be regarded as rudeness by the garda in question, an indiscretion that has more often than not gone unpunished by Garda management.
In addition to being unhappy at her treatment by gardaí, Ms Daly is also unhappy with the leaking of the information to the media.
Garda sources say the arrest of any TD would be difficult to keep secret. Word would spread to colleagues in that station who were not present at the time. Any arrest of a TD would be relayed by senior gardaí locally to their managers in Garda Headquarters, so within 24 hours of an arrest a relatively large number of gardaí and civilians would be aware of it.
That information could be passed to the media via a deliberate leak by a Garda member or indirectly, via an anonymous call or email.
Whatever the source, it would be difficult to pinpoint the source of the information because journalists would not disclose such information.
Similarly, while Ms Daly feels her recent campaign against gardaí terminating penalty points may be linked to her arrest, establishing that would be difficult.
While the level of alcohol in Ms Daly’s system was not above the legal limit, it appears the garda on duty believed there were grounds to suspect she may have been over the legal limit. Her urine sample revealed, in her own words, that she was about 30 per cent below the legal limit.
Once the garda formed the opinion at the scene she might be over the limit, his only course of action was to arrest her and bring her back to the station to further his inquiries. A person must be arrested once the garda forms the opinion they may be over the legal limit.