Record 4,300 gardai on duty at same time during historic visit
Published 21/05/2011 | 05:00
A RECORD number of gardai were on duty at the same time during the massive security operation to protect Queen Elizabeth.
Internal statistics last night confirmed that a total of 4,300 members of the force were working on one shift on Wednesday as the queen travelled through the capital to the War Memorial, Croke Park and Dublin Castle.
Each garda on duty used a Tetra handheld radio set for communication and the system, which was plagued by delays in its introduction period, survived its stiffest ever test.
Officers said 4,000 Tetra sets were also in use on Tuesday when the queen arrived here, and roughly similar figures were expected for the other two days.
They said the communications network had worked successfully throughout the operation and gardai on the ground were kept up to date on events unfolding elsewhere, using a range of channels for different units.
The garda air support unit downloaded a feed from its craft to each of the four control centres where regional commanders kept a close eye on the queen's movements.
The four assistant commissioners in charge -- Michael Feehan in Dublin, Dermot Jennings in Naas, Kevin Ludlow in Cashel and Willie Keane in Cork -- also had the assistance of additional CCTV camera footage as well as coverage provided from closed circuit cameras set up by local authorities.
Overall, 8,000 gardai and in excess of 2,000 Defence Forces personnel were deployed and last night there was general agreement that the decision to mount such a large operation was fully justified.
Senior officials from the Department of Finance had initially queried the need for so many security personnel with the costs approaching €30m.
But last night the money worries were eclipsed by the successful outcome of the visit in financial and security terms as well as the feeling it provided a badly needed boost for Ireland's image on the world stage.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter paid tribute to the gardai and the Defence Forces and said they had undertaken an immensely challenging task, which was carried out with great professionalism.
He said they could take great pride in their achievement and he also praised the role of other bodies, state and non-state, which played a key role in making the historic visit a success.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean McCann, also thanked their members and noted that they had performed their duties to the highest standards in ensuring the safety of the queen.
Mr Shatter said it was clear that the great majority of people had welcomed the visit and it was a pity that the nature of the security operation that had to be undertaken unavoidably deprived many people of being more closely involved in the visit and prevented them from expressing their welcome more directly.
Regrettably, he said, there were a small number of people who disgraced themselves again through thuggery and their blind unwillingness to accept the will of the people.
But, through the good work of the gardai and the Defence Forces, they were thwarted in their aims, he added.