POLL: Is having an unarmed Garda force still realistic?

The GRA is holding its annual conference in Co Kerry

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Gardaí on patrol in Dublin in 2011 | Image: RollingNews.ie

Gardaí are to consider whether having an unarmed force is realistic in a time of increasingly violent crime.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents rank and file gardaí, is holding its annual conference in Kerry this week where pay is expected to dominate.

With more than 10,500 members, the GRA is by far the largest body acting for gardaí.

As with other public servants' conferences, pay is at the top of the agenda - with newer members seeking parity with earlier entrants to the force, and city dwellers demanding an allowance for the higher cost of living.

But the realities of policing in a modern era are also a cause of concern.

The Donegal branch is calling for a debate on whether it is realistic that the force is unarmed in a time of rising violent crime, and with the threat of international terrorism.

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The conference will also hear calls to address the lack of 24-hour armed cover and frontline operational members nationwide.

Last week, the GRA rejected a new rostering system which the executive of the association had recommended.