#FactCheckIT: ‘We will have a new armed unit with 55 gardaí’

We put Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s claim to the test

Earlier this week Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald announced plans for a new armed support unit for Dublin staffed by 55 gardaí.

The move followed two high-profile gangland-style killings in the city within four days.

“We will have a new armed response unit in Dublin on a permanent basis,” she said on Tuesday.

“We will sustain and intensify saturation policing in Dublin City, including multiple rolling checkpoints and patrols.”

But how new is the unit? And will additional gardaí be recruited?

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors says the 55 gardaí required to run the unit will be transferred from other duties.

"These are not new people suddenly recruited and provided with uniforms and firearms," says John Jacob, the association's deputy general secretary.

“We’re taking them from elsewhere, which has consequences for police resources elsewhere.”

The association says these plans have been in the works for some time and that gardaí were notified of a new unit last December.

Such a unit was recommended on a number of occasions by the Garda Inspectorate, which advises the Government on the need for reform.

The Government can argue that the 55 recruits will, however, be offset by a resumption in Garda recruitment.

It has committed the State to hiring 600 new gardaí over the course of this year, for example.

However, the new armed response unit is due to be up and running shortly, and the latest batch of new recruits are due to enter service from around August on this year.

At that, recruits will spend an period of time observing and assisting gardaí as part of their training process.

Verdict:

True – but it will not include ‘new’ gardaí

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