Thursday 18 December 2014

Garda chief rules out donations of squad cars

Ralph Riegel and Tom Brady

Published 17/04/2014 | 02:30

Acting Garda Commissioner Norin O'Sullivan meets her namesake during a visit to Knocknaheeny Community Centre, Cork by Daragh Mc Sweeney

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has admitted the force needs to examine new ways of handling resources after it accepted a €45,000 van from a businessman.

Ms O'Sullivan was in Cork yesterday as she continued her countrywide tour of garda stations to hear the views of members of the force at local level.

Gardai accepted the new van from Cork businessman Tom Cavanagh for use in the Knock project at Knocknaheeny.

"The community bus today is a very positive aspect. Not just does the bus come here into the community today . . . his is the fourth such (donated) bus we have had," said Ms O'Sullivan.

While it will be driven by community policing officers, it will be used exclusively to ferry around young and old members of the local community.

But Ms O'Sullivan immediately faced questions about the scale of donations of vehicles to gardai and whether the force would ever accept emergency vehicles such as squad cars.

"I think we have to keep the situation under review. I think we have to look at new ways of doing things," she said – before later clarifying that the force could not accept privately donated vehicles for the garda fleets.

She explained that she had only been referring to vehicles such as the van, which could be used for the community as part of special projects.

Ms O'Sullivan was satisfied, she said, with the current level of government investment in the fleet.

Last October, the Government sanctioned a €4m investment in new garda patrol cars. A total of 170 new cars and emergency vehicles are being deployed nationwide.

"We are fortunate that we have had an opportunity to invest in the fleet. We have a number of new cars and those additional cars have been made available to us for the fleet," said Ms O'Sullivan. "They have been distributed around the country. It is something that we keep constantly under review."

APPROVED

The donation of the van yesterday was approved by both senior gardai and the Department of Justice.

However, no garda squad car or emergency response vehicle has ever been privately funded.

The practice exists in north America where charities, anti-crime organisations and community associations often contribute to the provision of specific emergency vehicles.

Ms O'Sullivan said that as the police force restructures and re-organises itself to make maximum use of available resources, everything needs to be considered.

"The community bus today is a very positive aspect and not alone does the bus come to the community here today but this is the third such bus we have had (donated). The old bus is going to Tralee as well, so two different communities benefit."

Irish Independent

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