Gardaí call for rapid response riot squads

The GRA annual conference will hear calls for the public order units to be held on standby on busy weekends

The Garda Representative Association’s annual conference will this week hear calls for special public order units to be held on standby across the state on busy nights and weekends.

It is one of 32 motions due to be put forward at the event for rank and file members in Galway.

The association will say that it is crucial that mobile units are available to provide a rapid response when trouble flares.

It will also call for a mandatory prison terms for people who attack front-line workers.

Garda assaults

It comes after two incidents in Dublin and Mayo over the Easter weekend saw gardaí attacked in the line of duty.

Both cases saw two member patrols out-numbered and attacked - and the association is concerned that falling garda numbers are leaving members at greater risk.

The association estimates that there are more than 250 attacks on gardaí every year and has called for an audit to accurately establish the figures.

Political football

GRA leadership will also use the conference to highlight concerns that the force is too often used as a “political football” by government and opposition parties.

GRA president Ciaran O’Neill has called on the Policing Authority to take action to remove political interventions in policing.

He said that the corporate image of the force has been damaged by “further allegations and perceived crises in leadership and management” adding that while the public appreciate that frontline gardaí are not responsible - members have been on the receiving end of negative commentary directed at the organisation.

The 32 motions up for debate also include calls for updated firearms and counter-terrorism training, improved training to deal with organised crime and new measures to speed up Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigations.

There will also be calls for gardaí to be allowed to wear beards and for the uniform to be updated.