Gardaí call for armed units across the country as gang feuding spreads
Rank-and-file Garda members are also seeking a full-time riot squad for Dublin
The call for divisional armed support units comes as gang feuding has spread beyond Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Rank-and-file gardaí want 24-hour armed units set up in all 28 Garda divisions to deal with armed crime and are also seeking a full-time Public Order Unit for Dublin.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) says while armed and tactically trained Regional Support Units have been established in recent years, more of them were needed.
They believed there was now a policing need to have them in all 28 Garda divisions rather than one armed team per region, of which there are six.
Many gardaí are also concerned that Brexit will rejuvenate smuggling.
They believe criminals in Garda divisions close to the Border will become stronger and more active, posing a bigger threat to the public and local gardaí as a result.
Meanwhile, the mooted Public Order Unit, or riot squad, specifically for Dublin would be on standby 24-7 to deal with unrest at flashpoint incidents.
These could include contentious evictions, dissident Republican marches and anti-austerity protests.
On Sunday, protestors who had previously criticised the State’s bailout of the banks and also spoke out against evictions gathered outside the home of Minister for Health Simon Harris TD.
The call to create a new Public Order Unit for Dublin has come from gardaí serving in the Dublin Metropolitan Region south central division. That division includes the Houses of the Oireachtas, which is often targeted by protestors.
Those rank-and-file gardaí pressing for armed units in every division are representing their colleagues in Sligo and Leitrim.
They were due to put their ideas forward at the GRA’s three-day annual delegate conference beginning this evening in Killarney, Co Kerry.
Garda representatives from the Donegal division and the Special Detective Unit in Dublin want the GRA to launch a campaign seeking an increase in the age at which rank-and-file gardaí must retire, which is 60 years at present.
At the same time, other GRA members, from Cork city, want a review carried out into how the hiring of hundreds of civilians each year into the Garda is impacting on older gardaí, aged 50 years or more.
There has long been concern in the Garda that older members working desk jobs would be compelled to return to front-line policing against their wishes because civilians were being hired to free them up from administrative jobs.
The GRA conference, which was due to continue until Wednesday, was set to be addressed on Tuesday by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and association president James Mulligan.
GRA delegates have also tabled motions seeking extra allowances for rank-and-file gardaí serving “in or close to” areas deemed as rent pressure zones.
The conference will also hear calls for all gardaí to be offered the flu vaccine, as is the case for other emergency services workers. There are a range of motions down for discussion urging the GRA executive to push for full pay restoration.
Others are calling for every Garda car to be equipped with GPS technology based on Eircodes across the country and for all gardaí to be supplied with encrypted USBs as an investigative tool.