Wednesday 28 September 2016

Criminals offer cash for private information on gardaí

Paul Williams

Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30

Dermot O’Brien, GRA President, addresses Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, at the 38th Garda Representative Association Annual Conference. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin
Dermot O’Brien, GRA President, addresses Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, at the 38th Garda Representative Association Annual Conference. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin

Criminals are offering money for personal information about gardaí and also using social media sites to intimidate and threaten the lives of officers, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has been told.

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Outgoing GRA president Dermot O'Brien said that individual officers were being left powerless in the face of orchestrated campaigns to target, bully and intimidate them on social media.

Mr O'Brien told Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan that her senior management had not made any efforts to defend the rank-and-file officers, and demanded the setting up of a social media protection policy for gardaí who are being attacked online.

"In the last 10 years we've seen social media become a new weapon to attack us on Twitter and Facebook. When social media is used to target, criticise and bully our members, some Garda management have been lacking in openly defending us," he told the GRA conference in Killarney yesterday.

"This is unacceptable when outrageous allegations can be levelled at us, money offered for personal information, threats made against us with little or no action being taken by management.

"We are left powerless in the face of such social media campaigns. Action needs to be taken. There is a social media policy in place as to what we are not to do. However, no policy is in place to assist and help when we are attacked online.

"Management needs to urgently provide us with support, guidance and, most importantly of all, protection. We respectfully ask you as our leader that you speak up for the organisation and protect us when we are attacked in all sections of the media," he added.

The conference also heard strong criticism of the Garda's computer system which is 17 years old.

Collapsing

Mr O'Brien described the Garda IT system, Pulse, as "collapsing at the seams with red traffic lights" and said it was "failing those it was designed to assist".

"We are taking one step forward and two steps back with Pulse," he said.

Commissioner O'Sullivan used her appearance at the conference as an opportunity to clarify confusing remarks she made about "invisible policing" when she spoke to the Policing Authority on Monday.

She said she was referring to gardaí who work behind the scenes, who sit at desks and analyse information and intelligence and who prevent, disrupt and reduce opportunities for crime.

Meanwhile, the GRA says that rank-and- file officers who are the first responders are not trained to deal with armed incidents.

The incoming president Ciaran O'Neill, who is a detective attached to the elite Special Detective Unit (SDU), said that the recent spate of gangland murders underlined the need for the strengthening of armed resources.

He also revealed that uniformed gardaí had not received tactical training in the past 13 years and were expected to respond to armed incidents armed "with an asp, pepper spray and a stab proof vest", which is useless if a garda is shot at.

Newly elected vice-president, Detective Garda James Mulligan, said that there was a chronic lack of equipment such as tasers and firearms.

The GRA said that 800 gardaí were due to retire in the next year, while only 600 were being recruited, representing a net loss of 200. Delegates also revealed how personnel levels in every specialist unit in the country had been allowed to drop by at least 20pc and management was accused of dragging its heels in addressing the issue.

Irish Independent

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