'We're sitting ducks' - Unarmed gardai protecting gang feud targets denied bullet-proof vests
Unarmed gardai protecting feud targets have been denied requests for bullet-proof vests despite the ongoing threat from gangs involved in the Hutch-Kinahan feud.
Uniformed officers are carrying out a number of patrols in an effort to prevent any further bloodshed in the feud that has already claimed ten lives.
The Herald can reveal that gardai have raised concerns with management about being inadequately equipped to deal with armed criminals who are the focus of numerous major investigations in the capital.
Officers have asked to be given ballistic (bullet-proof) vests as well as firearms training.
However, these calls have "fallen on deaf ears" and been rejected by management, with the issue "not even up for consideration", according to one source. This means unarmed officers manning checkpoints and protection posts in feud flashpoint areas are equipped with just a stab vest, an ASP baton and pepper spray.
The issue has also been raised by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), who have called for bullet-proof vests to be provided to front-line gardai. The organisation represents approximately 2,000 mid-level gardai.
An Garda Siochana did not provide an official comment in response to the issue at the time of going to print.
Protection posts have been placed on a permanent basis at the homes of feud targets, including that of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch's brother, Paddy (55).
Gardai have foiled at least two attempts on his life in recent months after detectives in the Crime and Security branch received information about a planned hit.
Currently, only gardai who carry a firearm are issued with a ballistic vest.
"Several times, concerns have been raised and requests made for unarmed gardai on the ground to be issued with a ballistic vest, but the calls have fallen on deaf ears.
"There is an expectation that armed criminals could arrive on the scene with the intent to kill or seriously harm, yet officers aren't even being granted adequate uniform for their own protection," a source said.
Gardai are also understood to have raised serious concerns about the quality of stab vests for standard duties.
A permanent protection post has also been placed near the home of John Hutch (63) in the north inner-city's Drumalee estate.
He also recently survived a murder bid after a hitman fired up to five shots at him in front of his disabled daughter.
Other posts have also been placed near Portland Row and Sheriff Street.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald last night said that assurances had been made by the Government to provide resources to gardai and that there was "no excuse" for this not to happen.
"The Government and the Minister for Justice assured us that gardai would be given every resource and the support they require, and if they feel they need a particular piece of equipment in terms of their own safety then the Government should supply it to them. There is no excuse for that," Ms McDonald said.
Armed units have been used to provide back-up for uniformed gardai, which included the Armed Support Unit and the Emergency Response Unit. However, armed support isn't immediately available on a 24/7 basis in parts of the city due to the high demand in resources.
Gardai in the south-inner city and Dublin 12 are also continuing to operate 24/7 checkpoints and patrols to prevent any attacks on gang members living in the area.
So far gardai investigating murders linked to the feud have made 45 arrests and a further eight have been brought before the courts.