Frontline gardaí to discuss provision of tasers for members

Garda Representative Association’s annual delegate conference to begin on Tuesday

The provision of tasers for all frontline members of the gardaí is to be discussed by the union representing on-the-ground officers in its annual conference.

The Garda Representative Association’s (GRA) delegates will also focus on a rise in attacks on its members and issues around pay.

The GRA, which represents more than 12,500 rank-and-file gardaí, will hold its annual delegate conference at the Castlecourt Hotel in Westport, Co Mayo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 44th annual conference will discuss a range of concerns and issues raised by delegates representing 31 separate Garda divisions.

The Sligo/Leitrim division has put forward a motion calling on the commissioner to carry out a review of the armed support capability for each operational Garda District and Division. This review should look at response times for armed support last year, make a comparison of the response times against international norms and consider whether tasers should be available to all frontline members, the motion states.

Tasers – hand-held devices designed to incapacitate via electric shock – are currently available only to specialist units such as the emergency response unit, armed support units and the special detective unit. There were 36 incidents of gardaí using tasers reported to the Garda Ombudsman in 2020, the most recent year for which figures are available.

The motion also calls on the Garda Commissioner to address the “deficiencies identified as a matter of urgency”.

The delegates will also discuss pay and conditions for members, in light of the “dangers faced by members on a daily basis, and the increasing number of assaults on our members”.

Recent figures from the GRA found a total of 466 gardaí were injured after being physically attacked on duty over the past two years. There were 223 assaults in 2020, rising to 243 last year, the union said.

A second motion on the number of assaults against members calls on the commissioner to make self-defence training available to all members, adding that where such training cannot be provided from within the organisation, outside agencies should be engaged on the matter.

Both Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris are scheduled to address the conference on Wednesday.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times

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