Harassment of gardaí over policing of water protests investigated

Names and addresses of some gardaí published on social media and other websites

 John Redmond, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi), speaks to    Garda Commissioner  Nóirín O’Sullivan at the association’s annual conference. Photograph: Barry Cronin/barrycronin.com

John Redmond, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi), speaks to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the association’s annual conference. Photograph: Barry Cronin/barrycronin.com

 

A Garda investigation has been set up into the harassment in person and on social media of gardaí arising from the policing of some anti-water charge protests.

Names and addresses of some Garda members have been published on social media and other websites and some officers, as well as members of the public, have allegedly been harassed in person.

Some photographs of gardaí at protests have been posted online requesting others to identify them, and it is understood this has resulted in some gardaí having to face protesters outside their homes.

“It’s an ongoing investigation, but we will investigate and we will take appropriate action once the facts of the cases have been established,” Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said.

She made her comments at the second day of the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Ms O’Sullivan did not say the alleged harassment was related to the anti-water charges, but Garda sources have confirmed the link.

Social media

Agsi had raised the issue at the conference, saying they were concerned members of the force were being harassed on social media.

The association also raised what it believes are shortcomings in the availability of armed gardaí to respond to incidents where suspects are armed.

Agsi said armed detectives and the armed Regional Support Units (RSUs) were available to provide armed back-up to their unarmed uniformed colleagues.

However, it said such coverage was short in some major urban areas and that those Garda members who carried firearms rarely worked after 4am.

Sgt Michael Hogan, who is based in Granard, Co Longford, told delegates criminals were arming themselves with guns often included as sweeteners with drug shipments being imported into the State.

High-powered vehicles

He added they stole high-powered vehicles and were travelling all over the country to carry out crimes.

The Garda needed to consider whether unarmed uniformed gardaí should be granted access to firearms on those occasions when incidents arose and their armed detective or RSU colleagues were not available.

The problem was exacerbated because the RSU teams were required to cover large parts of the country and are headquartered far from some parts of their areas of responsibility.

The proposal to arm uniformed gardaí has always been contentious and has been resisted since the formation of the State.

Armed incidents

“An Garda Síochána should train, equip and authorise sufficient members so that we are in a position to deal with armed incidents and the threat of armed criminals no matter what part of the country it occurs and at any time day or night,” Sgt Hogan told the conference.

Agsi also wants all gardaí currently issued with firearms to undergo tactical training.

Delegates also passed a motion calling for Garda management to build protective barriers between the front and back seats of Garda cars to help prevent attacks on gardaí when driving prisoners after arrest.

Agsi delegates are also seeking the restoration of their pay to 2008 levels now that public finances are improving faster than expected.