Tuesday 23 May 2017

Over 100 extra gardaí for 'Riot Squad' ahead of 1916 events

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has previously announced that the organisation hopes to recruit 600 new members in 2016. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has previously announced that the organisation hopes to recruit 600 new members in 2016. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Robin Schiller

Over 100 serving gardaí received training for the force's Public Order Unit ahead of the main Easter Rising centenary celebrations later this year.

Some 120 officers from various divisions across the six garda regions were trained for the unit, also known as the 'Riot Squad', and most will now be eligible to take part in a variety of operations including crowd control at major events.

A source explained that the extra number of gardaí being trained for the unit is due to the 1916 centenary celebrations taking place throughout the year, with the main events in April.

"There is a concern that a small minority of people will attempt to hijack the event in order to cause carnage, so extra precautions are being taken ahead of the celebrations.

"One of these is to boost the number of gardaí currently working with the Garda Public Order, who will be out in force for the main events being held in April to prevent any attempts to disrupt the proceedings," the source said.

"The equipment that officers in the unit wear costs approximately €1,000 between riots shields and helmets as well as the 'soft' equipment that is worn, so it shows that slowly more money is thankfully being spent on the force."

Around 40 officers were put through the gruelling assessments over the course of three weeks in 2015, and although there were a number of members who failed the tough training, over 100 passed.

The increase in numbers is also part of a general boost in numbers across the force, with Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan previously announcing that the organisation hoped to recruit 600 new members in 2016.

There are currently in the region of 600 members of An Garda Síochána trained for the Public Order Unit, with 100 of these stationed in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and a further 500 spread across the other five garda regions around the country.

The most recent mass operation by the 'Riot Squad' was ahead of the international friendly between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in May.

Over 100 members of the Public Order Unit patrolled the streets of Dublin and the area around the stadium ahead of the fixture due to the violent scenes that occurred when the teams met 20 years previous at Lansdowne Road.

Irish Independent

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