Armed gardaí visible at Border checkpoints in Co Louth

Armed regional support unit present as unarmed gardaí ran checkpoints in recent days

The presence of armed regional support unit members at some Garda checkpoints near the Border is making uniformed unarmed gardaí “feel a little safer and less exposed”, a source said. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The presence of armed regional support unit members at some Garda checkpoints near the Border is making uniformed unarmed gardaí “feel a little safer and less exposed”, a source said. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Armed gardaí have begun providing back-up to uniformed Garda members in Co Louth as they mount checkpoints along the Border to counteract criminality in the wake of the murder of Garda Tony Golden.

In recent days the armed regional support unit (RSU) has been present while unarmed gardaí in the county operated regular checkpoints.

A number of checkpoints where armed gardaí were clearly visible were mounted in North Louth, including Dundalk, on Friday.

It comes just days after additional gardaí were sent on temporary transfer to Dundalk Garda station.

Extra resources

The move was welcomed by former detective garda Richie Culhane (FG), a member of Louth County Council, who said, “ I am delighted the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has agreed to provide the extra resources for gardaí in the area, and I welcome that these checkpoints with armed members have commenced.”

Cllr Culhane said it is time for a debate on the reopening on a 24-hour basis of the Omeath, Hackballscross and Dromad Garda stations.

During the Troubles, the stations, which are all small and close to Border crossings between Louth and Counties Down and Armagh, were fully staffed and open to the public 24 hours a day.

Garda Golden was stationed in Omeath and had been helping Siobhan Phillips as she prepared to leave her violent partner, Adrian Crevan Mackin, when Mackin shot her and Garda Golden.

Critical condition

Ms Phillips remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Meanwhile, Garda sources in Louth said it is important that the additional gardaí allocated to Dundalk district are “made permanent. It is vital that the temporary positions become permanent allocations. They are needed in the Border area.

“We also need patrol cars allocated to Dromad, Hackballscross and Omeath, out on the Border 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and not able to be diverted away from there,” the source added.

The presence of the RSU members is making uniformed unarmed gardaí “feel a little safer and less exposed. We know that the vast majority of people in north Louth have great time for the gardaí,” the source added.