Gardaí say gun training is not enough to counter gang threat
Rank and file gardaí have warned their commissioner they need updated courses in firearms tactical training to help them confront the threat from gangland crime.
Gardaí believe the existing facilities for refresher training are no longer adequate, and they are not properly prepared to cope with the growing dangers posed by gangsters.
They are calling on Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to overhaul existing methods and facilities for training, and to incorporate updated and comprehensive courses in the deployment of tactics, rather than simply firing their weapons at a range once a year.
The call will form part of a series of demands by gardaí on how to prepare themselves for street duties against a background of violence and potential threats from terrorists, criminals and local thugs.
The demands will be debated by the Garda Representative Association (GRA) at its annual conference, which gets under way in Galway this evening.
The motion on firearms training has been tabled by delegates from the Cavan-Monaghan division, where a significant number of major criminals have opted to live in the past decade in a bid to avoid Garda attention. Most of them have moved there from their homes in north Dublin.
Gardaí say they need "judgmental" training on what to do if confronted with a gunman rather than simply discharging their weapons either on a range or through simulation.
The conference will also hear a call from Cavan-Monaghan and Donegal divisions for the provision of continuous professional development training, including in counter-terrorism, to all members at least twice a year and for a ring-fenced national budget to be agreed with sanctions imposed on any divisional officer not complying with the commissioner's instructions.
Gardaí are calling for a national audit to establish the number of assaults on members every year, the nature of the assaults, their consequences on members and the progress made in prosecuting those responsible.
The debate on this topic follows assaults on gardaí in Mayo and Finglas, in west Dublin, in the past fortnight and delegates believe legislation should be changed to provide for a mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of an assault on a garda or members of other frontline emergency services.
Gardaí also think that wearing body cameras would help with convictions as they would act as an independent witness to an assault, allowing the judge to "walk in the boots of the garda" as the assault takes place.
The conference is expected to overwhelmingly support a renewed call for an optimum numbers survey to establish how many gardaí are required to allow the force to fulfil its mandate.
The association has previously suggested the strength of the force should be increased to 18,000 rather than the current target of 15,000.
Stubbling block: Officers bristle at ban on beards
Gardaí are bristling over the right to wear a beard while on duty. Rank and file members say they should be allowed to grow a beard and maintain it while in uniform.
“The regulations are out of date. Wearing beards has long been accepted by society and is back in fashion at the moment,” one supporter said.
“Why can’t gardaí follow the hipster trend if that is what they choose to do?” he asked.
The issue will be raised by delegates from the Kildare division of the GRA.
In 2001, Garda John Wilson, who was later a key figure in the whistleblower controversy, was confined to indoor duties because he grew a beard.
Mr Wilson was restored to full duties after it was argued he had a skin condition, eased by growing a beard.