Gardaí spent €1.5m on arms training to tackle crime gangs
Gardaí have spent almost €1.5m on gun training for elite units in the fight against organised crime gangs and potential terrorist threats.
In the first nine months of this year alone almost €200,000 was used to train gardaí to use a firearm, but this figure does not include the new Armed Support Unit (ASU), which began its training in September.
The Irish Independent can reveal that since 2010 a total of €1,441,757.80 was spent at the Firearms Training Unit at the Garda Training College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, and Garda HQ.
This facility is used for basic and refresher gun training courses, development of training strategies, research into new firearms and equipment.
It provides initial training for the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU), as well as training and annual refresher training for the Regional Support Unit (RSU).
Gardaí attached to a District Detective Unit (DDU) are also provided with initial training and refresher courses.
The training unit carries out exercises at both Garda and military facilities around the country. The ERU, an elite section of the Special Detective Unit (SDU), primarily focuses on 'high-end' crime including dissident republicans and organised crime gangs.
Its heavily armed members were forced to patrol the streets of Dublin following the Regency Hotel murder on February 5, when Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne (33) was shot dead.
Elite Garda snipers were also deployed for the funerals of Byrne and Eddie Hutch (59), who was shot dead on February 8. The rare deployment of specially trained marksmen was in anticipation of retaliatory attacks from gangs involved in the Hutch/Kinahan feud.
Each of the six Garda regions has an RSU attached to it, which respond to armed incidents including shootings and aggravated burglaries.
Up to September this year, a total of €183,857.51 in subsistence allowance was paid to the firearms instructors for the provision of firearm training.
The highest figure paid was in 2010, when costs exceeded €250,000. The lowest total figure was in 2012, when €176,025.88 in costs was associated to firearm instructors.
Each individual garda trained in the use of a firearm must do a minimum of two live firearm refresher training sessions and one computer generated situation, known as a FATS, each year to retain the authorisation to carry a firearm.
Since 2013, 10,049 members of An Garda Síochána have received basic training and refresher courses.