Wednesday 29 March 2017

GRA chief issues warning over Queen visit

A rank-and-file police leader today predicted "Armageddon" during the Queen's state visit to Ireland unless €25m can be found to bankroll a massive security operation.

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), said policing budgets will not cover the planning, surveillance and intelligence gathering needed.

Mr Stone, who represents frontline police officers, said the cash-strapped Government needs to come up with the extra funding for both the Queen and US President Barack Obama's official trips next month.

Asked what would happen if the money could not be found, he replied: "Then we are looking at Armageddon."

Mr Stone said: "I don't think the Garda Siochana will be in a position to police those events given the resources that currently exist if there is not a separate budget for this venture."

The garda grassroots leader said when the force was allocated €1.4bn for its budget this year, nobody foresaw the expensive official state visits.

The Queen is to tour a number of historically significant sites during her trip, from May 17 to 20, including Croke Park - the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre by British troops - and Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, which honours all those who fought for Irish freedom.

It will be the first official visit by a British sovereign to the Irish Republic.

Mr Stone said hundreds of millions of euro had been pumped into the Police Service of Northern Ireland as concerns mount about the increased threat from dissident republicans.

"We are not that fortunate here and we have to ensure that we don't take our eye off the ball in respect of issues of such importance," he added.



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