New calls for rethink on arming gardai after pub brawl
THE garda rank-and-file 'union' is urging a rethink on arming officers after gardai were threatened by a man with a gun following a brawl outside a rural pub.
Gardai from the Buncrana garda station in Co Donegal were threatened by a man who pointed a .38 revolver at them as they tried to break up a row outside a pub in Gleneely, near Carndonagh, Co Donegal.
No shots were fired and no one was injured in the incident.
However, Supt William Johnston said gardai were treating the incident very seriously after they were threatened outside the Orchard Bar around 12.30am yesterday.
The gunman pointed the weapon at several gardai before fleeing the scene in a 4x4.
A suspect -- originally from the North -- was later arrested after the gun was recovered in undergrowth near the pub. A search of his property also turned up a stolen car.
Gda Michael O'Boyce, president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) described the incident as "very worrying".
"It was an appalling incident for guards going about their everyday work to be confronted by a gunman," he said.
"There is a growing volume of opinion in the guards that we should be armed."
The GRA voted in favour of arming gardai at its annual conference in 2008 following the shooting of unarmed traffic garda Paul Sherlock (34) during rush hour in Dublin's North Strand in September 2007.
But Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has stated he was adamant that he would not routinely arm gardai during his tenure, despite calls from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) to arm its Regional Support Units (RSU) on a full-time basis.
AGSI general secretary Joe Dirwan last night reiterated the association's call for the units to be fully armed instead of the current situation in which RSU members can only access weapons in their cars once they change into tactical gear.
While he stopped short of calling for the arming of uniformed gardai, he said the RSUs needed instant access to weapons to cope with many serious incidents happening around the country.
"You need that immediate response 24-7," he told the Irish Independent.
The alarming increase in gangland crime and crimes involving weapons means senior gardai are becoming increasing vulnerable, he added.