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Delegates to discuss concerns over garda suspension protocols at conference


GRA President Frank Thornton. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

GRA President Frank Thornton. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

GRA President Frank Thornton. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

Concerns over the protocols that are followed when gardaí are suspended from duty are set to be raised by the union representing frontline officers at its annual conference.

The Garda Representative Association’s (GRA) delegates will also focus on a rise in attacks on its members and issues around manpower when they meet in Kerry this week.

The GRA, which represents over 12,500 rank-and-file gardaí, will hold its annual delegate conference at the Gleneagles INEC Arena in Killarney over the next two days.

It will formally open tomorrow and will discuss a range of concerns and issues raised by delegates representing 31 separate garda divisions.

The annual conference will be the first held in person in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will be open only to delegates.

One of the key issues set to be discussed is concerns about the current protocols followed when gardaí are suspended from duty.

A number of gardaí have been suspended in recent weeks in relation to separate incidents, including allegedly failing a roadside breath test following a traffic collision, and alleged media leaks.

In some situations, gardaí have not faced any criminal charges and are suspended pending the outcome of investigations.

The GRA is expected to raise concerns about how guidelines relating to these suspensions are followed.

Figures from the Garda Commissioner’s latest monthly report to the Policing Authority show that, up to the end of September, 81 people were suspended by An Garda Síochána.

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The breakdown of this was 73 men and eight women, and includes gardaí, garda staff and probationers.

Another primary issue is the increase in attacks on gardaí in recent years which have risen sharply according to the GRA.

Recent figures show that over a five-year period, up to 2020, attacks rose by over 50pc. Almost half were as a result of injuries inflicted on gardaí while on duty.

The assaults on gardaí are expected to be raised by GRA President Frank Thornton on the opening day of the delegate conference while the issue is also set to be discussed with the Department of Justice.

Other areas of concerns due to be brought up at the event are serious concerns about manpower and resources, the lack of appropriate equipment and training, as well as the integration of probationary garda members to the frontline.

The Commissioner’s response to the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out will also be raised at the conference.

It will open tomorrow morning, with motions being debated over the following two days before it closes on Wednesday.

It is understood that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris will not address the conference himself but that this will be done by Deputy Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is also expected to address the GRA delegates during the conference.

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