Gardaí highlight emergency services safety concerns

The GRA is calling for an audit on the number and nature of assaults on gardaí around the country

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Gardaí at a recruitment ceremony, Templemore garda college, Co Tipperary. Photo: Rollingnews.ie

The health and safety of Ireland’s emergency services will come under the spotlight this morning as the Garda Representative Association begins its annual conference in Galway.

The GRA - representing over 10,500 rank-and-file Gardaí - is calling for an audit on the number and nature of assaults on its members, which frequently go unreported.

It comes amid attacks on male and female Gardaí, in both Dublin and Mayo in recent weeks.

Among the motions for discussion over the next two days are firearms training, public order units, and the rules on Gardaí wearing beards.

John Parker – GRA representative for the Cork North Division – told Newstalk that they are calling for public order units to be kept of stand-by around the country:

“There can often be flare-ups, even in the regional towns and some of the smaller cities,” he said.

“One minute there is a large crowd out enjoying themselves and on another occasion a group of people intent on creating mayhem get involved and it necessitates a deployment of a public order unit who are properly resourced, properly kitted out; rather than your uniformed front-line guard responding with very little protective equipment.

The association are also calling for mandatory sentences for assaults on all emergency personnel.

“Fire brigade, ambulance, prison officers, other front-line service workers; they perform this duty on a daily basis in the knowledge that at any time they might be attacked, that the attack will be unannounced, that they might be unprepared” said Garda Parker.

 “In general a lot of this only comes to light when perhaps a local newspaper takes up the story and reports on the severity of the assault.”

The association has said that over 5,400 gardaí were injured in the line of duty since 2006. Five officers have been killed.

Separately the GRA has warned that there is still a staff shortage at supervisory rank in Bailieboro in County Cavan in spite of the recommendations of the O’Higgins commission report.

The commission identified a number of garda investigative failings and highlighted the absence of supervisors in the district.