Uniformed gardaí will remain unarmed - Commissioner
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy today insisted that uniformed officers will remain unarmed as his rank and file gathered to debate the divisive issue.
Most delegates speaking at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual conference came out against any proposal for ordinary gardaí said on the street to carry guns.
And despite calls from one Garda leader for motorcycle officers to be issued with weapons, Commissioner Murphy said he had no plans for any such changes.
“I’m committed to maintaining a uniformed, unarmed presence on our streets, in our cities, in our towns,” he said.
The Commissioner said he was glad of the debate that has raged within the force since the shooting of unarmed motorcycle officer Paul Sherlock last year.
“I’m glad of any debate on any issue that would clear the air,” he said.
But he was adamant that he would not be changing the historic policy of an unarmed, uniformed garda force that has been the case since 1922.
“The first commissioner spoke about how the Garda Siochana will get their authority not from force of arms or numbers but from the will of the people,” he said.
“I, as the 18th Commissioner, am committed to the same ideals.”
Commissioner Murphy told delegates there were 3,500 armed members - almost a quarter of the force - and that his focus was on giving them the best training.
He said special units would be available for trouble hotspots like Limerick and Finglas, north Dublin, where he had recently deployed the force’s elite Emergency Response Unit.
Currently members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) are deployed to portect unarmed uniformed members manning checkpoints under Operation Anvil, which targets armed gangs.
However, following the shooting Garda Sherlock, during a botched post office robbery in Dublin last year, there have been growing calls to arm more uniformed officers as part of plans for new regional support units.
The units are being established to contain armed incidents pending the arrival at a crime scene of the ERU.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has voiced its concerns at the proposed plans.
Separately, Irish Alliance for Europe Director Brendan Kiely told the conference that a yes vote in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be a ‘significant step towards winning the war on crime.’
“The Lisbon Reform Treaty, if passed, will put us in an unprecedented position to tackle major international crime including the trafficking of women and children, organised crime and the illegal drugs trade,” he said.
“If we are to tackle these problems head-on we need to do so at a pan European level and the treaty makes this task significantly easier,” he added.