Fears that more could die as plan sees road safety 'downgraded'
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is accusing An Garda Síochána of downgrading road safety policing in its restructuring of the force.
Last night, the State body said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on foot of concerns about the plan raised by its board and executive.
"While the authority welcomes the promise that the new model will increase the number of frontline gardaí and bring significant improvements to An Garda Síochána's structures, processes and services, it remains very concerned for the roads policing function within the new structure and the implications for road safety.
"It views the proposed restructuring as effectively downgrading road safety within the policing function," a statement said.
The RSA, whose CEO is Moyagh Murdock, highlighted how the plan omitted roads policing as one of the four key focus areas "called out at an operational level".
Four areas identified in the plan for the future model were community engagement, crime, business services and performance insurance.
"The RSA firmly believes that roads policing should be given the same prioritisation as the four functional areas identified in the plan," it said.
It claimed the new organisational changes "appeared to signify a disappointing demotion and devaluing of roads policing" and related road safety.
"These changes in roads policing risk unravelling much of the success Ireland has achieved in terms of reducing road fatalities and serious injuries on our roads," it said.
And it claimed the changes were counterproductive to the objectives of the Government Road Safety Strategy.
The RSA welcomed comments from Commissioner Harris that the plan was not set in stone and that he will be seeking feedback from various parties on the merits of the initial proposal.
"The area of the Roads Policing Unit has faced significant challenges in recent years due to consistent under-resourcing and lack of strategic leadership and oversight.
"In spite of the failures of the past, the service being provided by the Roads Policing Units has saved many lives over the past decade and last year was the safest on record, but this has been a long and hard path to navigate," it said.