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Gardai to put brakes on drivers for ex-Taoisigh

THE security of ministers will be a key consideration in the decision on whether to reduce the numbers of garda drivers after the general election.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan confirmed yesterday he was taking a look at the requirements of the pool in the wake of the outgoing Government's decision that a review should be held.

A total of 54 armed gardai are required to drive 27 cars, on a week-on, week-off basis. The cost was estimated to have been around €12m for last year and 2009 combined.

"This a work in progress and we are keeping an eye on the political situation, particularly in the recent past," the comissioner said.

The setting up of a shared pool of cars for ministers was mooted last year but gardai opted to examine present arrangements following the paint attack on Mary Harney.

Any changes could result in the removal of armed drivers for some former Taoisigh, particularly those considered not to be under any type of threat.

A reduction in garda drivers for the new cabinet could result in the present arrangements being kept for the Taoiseach, the Ministers for Justice, Defence and Foreign Affairs.

The rest would either be required to share garda cars be provided with private cars and drivers by their respective departments,

Mr Callinan, who at Templemore for the graduation of 126 gardai, paid tribute to his force who provided a service seven days a week throughout the year.

Irish Independent