'There will be officers on streets and calls will be answered'
Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan has moved to reassure the public about the feared strike by gardaí, guaranteeing there will be officers on the streets tomorrow.
Mr Nolan conceded there would be a "significantly reduced Garda service" if the industrial action went ahead, but that emergency calls "will be responded to".
He told an Oireachtas Committee he would not comment on the negotiations with the Garda representative associations aimed at resolving the row over pay. But Mr Nolan gave details of the contingency plan to police the country if industrial action by more than 12,000 gardaí can't be averted.
"What I can guarantee you is that there will be gardaí on the streets," he told TDs. "There will be garda members working on November 4 and calls for assistance will be responded to. There may have to be a priority with regard to some of them but they will be responded to."
He said the actual number of gardaí that would report for duty was "a matter of negotiations", but 450 student gardaí would be available, as would 400 probationer members, and about 220 senior officers such as superintendents and assistant commissioners.
Mr Nolan said the staff associations had also said the armed Emergency and Regional Response Units would also be available for duty and the Technical Bureau and National Surveillance Unit would have "capabilities".
He was appearing at the Oireachtas Committee on Rural Affairs where TDs raised issues such as the closure of garda stations and the need for more CCTV in remote areas. Last night, community organisation Irish Rural Link (IRL) said it was concerned about the implications of any Garda strike on rural areas.
"IRL are aware that people, especially older people living alone, are nervous that there will be no proper Garda system in place as a result of the strikes," it said in a statement. They called for neighbours to look after each other and to contact gardaí if they see any suspicious activity.