Armoured vehicles and armed protection likely for new Garda commissioner

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris will take up the new role in September

Senior PSNI officers currently travel around the North, and to the Republic on visits, in armoured 4X4 vehicles accompanied by armed close protection teams, or police bodyguards.  File photograph: Cyril Byrne/ The Irish Times

Senior PSNI officers currently travel around the North, and to the Republic on visits, in armoured 4X4 vehicles accompanied by armed close protection teams, or police bodyguards. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/ The Irish Times

 

An armed Garda security team looks set to be placed around incoming Garda commissioner Drew Harris when he takes up his role in September, Garda sources have said.

Senior PSNI officers currently travel around the North, and to the Republic on visits, in armoured 4X4 vehicles accompanied by armed close protection teams, or police bodyguards.

Informed Garda sources said while the arrangements for Mr Harris when he joins the Garda were not yet determined, they could not envisage his current security detail being reduced.

This would mean armoured vehicles, already used by some Irish embassy and consular staff in world trouble spots, would be recommended. And a full-time team of armed close protection Garda officers would be assigned to his security detail.

The role of protecting him would switch from the PSNI to the Garda but he would remain a target for dissident Republicans, the sources said.

The same sources believed the threat would be greatest in the first months of his five-year term, which may mean he lives in officers’ lodgings at Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, for a period.

They pointed out while the capability of dissidents was weaker than before, they were still regarded as a bigger threat to the security of the State than international terrorists.

They said security around Garda Headquarters would be heightened and security considerations would be the top priority when choosing a place for him to live in Dublin.

Gardaí familiar with arrangements for visiting politicians and other dignitaries said it would be irresponsible for anything short of a travelling armed cordon to be placed around him.

“Some of them (dissidents) may want to pull off a spectacular in trying to attack him and his appointment would be something they oppose,” one source said.

Another said the Garda would need to take security precautions to ensure Mr Harris, the current PSNI deputy chief constable, was not targeted with security disruptions.

These could include the planting of crude or hoax devices around Garda Headquarters or at venues he was due to attend on official functions.