Wednesday 26 April 2017

Gardaí want ban on people photographing and recording them on duty

  • AGSI conference kicks off
  • Calls for ban on photographing and recording gardaí on duty
  • Motion for training on dealing with media during duty
  • Three out of five farmers accuse Government of under-investing in rural policing
  • Public opinion split on whether sufficient money is set aside for policing of nation's roads
Antoinette Cunningham, of the Association of Garda Sergeants Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Antoinette Cunningham, of the Association of Garda Sergeants Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Tom Brady and Cathal McMahon

AGSI members will call for it to be made illegal to photograph or video a garda member in the course of their duty without that member's consent and then post this image on any media.

The issue has been raised in the past regarding the policing of water protests and other demonstrations.

Images videos of gardaí have been posted to social media, identifying those members. The motion has been proposed by gardaí in West Dubin and is set to be discussed at the annual AGSI conference.

The 39th AGSI Annual Delegate Conference begins in Killarney this afternoon. In a break with tradition Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will not be attending.

A spokesman said: "The Tanaiste very much regrets that, because the pressure of Dail business this week relating, in particular, to Garda matters, she will not be in a postion to attend the AGSI conference, which she had very much hoped to attend."

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Association president Antoinette Cunningham said members of the AGSI have found photos or video of themselves "placed on some social media sites".

"Their private domestic lives, home addresses and members of family have been referred to in a way not connected to the duty of which that member was carrying out.

"There is a risk attached to that. They want to fully protect their private life doing their duty. They feel it is justifiable.

"It can bring significant risk and stress," she added.

Separately delegates from Sligo/Leitrim are calling for the Justice Minister to introduce legislation making it obligatory for all pedestrians and cyclists to be forced to wear hi-visibility clothing.

AGSI members from Dublin's south inner city say that while they do not want pedestrians to be forced to wear hi-vis clothing they do think bicycle helmets should become obligatory for cyclists.

Another motion that may cause debate is one introduced by members for Laois/Offaly. Sergeants and Inspectors from that division are calling on the Garda Commissioner to "provide suitable training" to "assist the member" in their dealings with local and national media in the course of their duty.

Meanwhile, three out of five farmers have accused the Government of under-investing in rural policing, according to a poll.

But public opinion is split on whether sufficient money is being set aside for policing of the nation's roads.

The survey was carried out among a sample of a thousand people by Red C on behalf of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

The results of the poll will be officially announced this evening in Killarney at the opening of the association's annual conference.

According to the association, 55pc of those surveyed believe the Garda should have the right to strike, while there was 81pc support for allowing gardaí to negotiate their own pay and conditions.

The survey was carried out between March 20 and 23, before the latest controversies erupted over false breath test figures and wrongful prosecutions in court for road traffic offences.

The results of the survey show that 77pc took the view that the planned withdrawal of labour last November had either a positive impact or no impact at all on public opinion of the force.

Association president Antoinette Cunningham said this finding was encouraging.

"Association members are very cognisant of, and value, the views of the citizens of this State," Ms Cunningham said.

"We felt we had anecdotal evidence of how the public felt towards us, but we wanted to get independent and expert research undertaken to establish the facts."

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