Despite all the criticism, gardaí put lives on line to protect us
Two unrelated events yesterday underlined the dangers faced on a daily basis by members of the Garda's Emergency Response Unit (ERU) from organised crime gangs and dissident republican terrorists.
In the Special Criminal Court, a man who has been at the forefront of domestic terrorism on this side of the Border for several decades was sent to jail for 11 and a half years. Seamus McGrane (63) devoted much of his life to creating mayhem. His removal from the streets is another box ticked by the Garda's counter subversion units, although others remain and will, in time, be confronted by the ERU.
At the same time, that heavily armed group of gardaí have also been very active in the crackdown on organised crime, and they risk their lives when they are sent out to tackle potentially armed suspects. The ERU is usually deployed to take care of the most dangerous part of the Garda mission, protecting their colleagues on searches, disarming any suspects, and paving the way for their arrest.
Yesterday morning, ERU personnel were providing armed back-up for gardaí executing search warrants at a house in Barnwell Drive in Ballymun.Gardaí suspected the house was being used by a drug-trafficking gang for local dealing and officers were aware there had been a shooting there within the past couple of weeks, when one man was injured.
The unit is well trained and prepared for such a scenario but each incident carries the danger of the unexpected.
Senior Garda officers acknowledged that what happened could have resulted in a number of fatalities but for the experience and expertise of the ERU.
An Garda Síochána has come in for a lot of criticism in the past few years, some of it well founded and justified. But yesterday provided further proof of the good work done by the force to make the nation a safer place to live.