Garda use of force increased significantly in February, report states

Batons and incapacitant spray among techniques used by gardaí

Gardaí used non-lethal means to subdue a man attempting to set his home alight using a homemade flamethrower last month, according to a report to the Policing Authority.

There was a significant rise in the use of force by gardaí last month, according to the report of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to the authority, particularly in the use of batons and incapacitant spray.

Armed gardaí also fatally shot a dog during February, the second dog shot by gardaí this year.

One instance involving the use of force occurred on February 21st, when gardaí in the Eastern Region received reports of a male who had barricaded himself in his home.


Psychological treatment

The man was detained under the Mental Health Act 2001 and medically assessed before being transferred to hospital for psychological treatment.

The Garda Commissioner’s report detailed a 40 per cent increase in the use of force in February (98 incidents compared to 70 in January).

The vast majority of these related to the use of incapacitant spray, which increased by 39 per cent to 78 incidents. The use of batons almost doubled, from 10 in January to 17 in February.

There were two incidents during which gardaí discharged their firearm. In one incident, a dog was “subjected to lethal force”.

Public order incidents

Public order incidents, drug-related incidents and traffic-related incidents were the main settings where use of force occurred.

An organised protest in Dublin on February 27th “was especially demanding on the members of An Garda Síochána”, the Garda Commissioner wrote.

Gardaí were attacked with missiles and fireworks during the anti-lockdown demonstration. Their graduated response and the quick return of calm to the city “are a reflection of the true diligence and professionalism of each of the gardaí involved”, the report said, adding that 23 people were arrested during the disturbance.

"An Garda Síochána demonstrated resilience in dealing with a very challenging incident."

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times