Garda sergeants critical of Minister’s ‘attack’ on gardaí over QIH violence
D’Arcy asked to clarify ‘claim’ that local police did not move fast enough to tackle violence
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors described Minister for State Michael D’Arcy’s ‘claims’ as ‘unhelpful’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Garda sergeants and inspectors have called on Minister for State Michael D’Arcy to “clarify” remarks in which he said local police had not moved fast enough to tackle the campaign of intimidation and violence against Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) executives.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) described the “claims” as “unhelpful”.
Deputy general secretary Antoinette Cunningham said it was “ironic” a Government Minister was “attacking” local gardaí.
“Our members have been hamstrung by a lack of resources and we are on the record as voicing our concern about this,” she said, adding Garda Headquarters was now in the process of deploying more resources to the region.
Mr D’Arcy, Minister of State for Public Expenditure, had said on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics the campaign of violence and threats against QIH “should have been dealt with sooner and better” at local Garda level.
“On every occasion the Taoiseach shouldn’t have to get involved, or the Minister for Justice or the Garda Commissioner. There are senior gardaí in those divisions, in those areas, who let those gentlemen down,” he said.
Mr D’Arcy insisted the blame lay with gardaí “on the ground” rather than with the Government or Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
John McCartan, a non-executive director of QIH, said he agreed with Mr D’Arcy’s remarks. However, he said he believed that “finally the resolve and the resources” required for the Garda to tackle the suspects was now in place.
When asked at Remembrance Day commemorations in Dublin about the remarks, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he had “every confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and his team”. He repeated that comment when asked if he agreed with the remarks or if Mr D’Arcy should withdraw them.
Speaking at the same event, Mr Harris said there was “no doubt” in his mind about the determination of his officers to catch the criminals involved. He was “fully confident” in the local officers in the Border region investigating the violence.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan described Mr D’Arcy’s remarks as “totally unhelpful” and only serving “to make a bad situation worse”. He accused him of seeking to “pass the buck on to the gardaí on the ground”.
The remarks ignored the fact it was the Government’s responsibility to ensure the Garda was properly resourced with “cars, equipment and technology, to prevent such intimidatory campaigns from taking hold”, he added.
“A renewed focus on the Border region is needed to send a message to organised criminals that it is no longer a ‘no man’s land’.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday met the five directors of QIH, including Kevin Lunney, to tell them their safety and security, and that of their families and employees, was being treated with the “utmost seriousness at the top of Government”.
Mr Varadkar met the directors near the offices of QIH on the Border between Co Cavan and Co Fermanagh while returning from the Remembrance Day commemorations.