Thursday 20 September 2018

Garda chief worry over shortage of supervisors

Sgt David Haughney
Sgt David Haughney
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin has admitted he is concerned about a shortage of supervisors in the force.

He said he had finished a tour of the country where he had visited every chief superintendent in their own divisions and said the lack of supervision had been a "constant refrain".

He was commenting on criticism of the shortage by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors at its annual conference in Tullow, Co Carlow.

Association president Antoinette Cunningham told the commissioner the shortage had reached "crisis point".

The commissioner said some of the problems they were now confronting were legacy issues, partly as a result of the moratorium on recruitment and promotions, and they realised this was a big risk for the organisation.

"Recruitment has started and we welcome the fact there are all these young people coming into stations throughout the country," he said.

Sgt David Haughney after being attack in Youghal in 2014
Sgt David Haughney after being attack in Youghal in 2014

The conference also heard personal stories from garda sergeants at the front line.

Sgt David Haughney told how he thought he was about to die when he sustained severe eye injuries when he came under attack on night duty with colleague John Tarrant in 2014.

He said he owed his life to his colleague and friend when he was attacked with a barrage of rocks while investigating an incident.

Currently based in Midleton, Co Cork, he and his colleague said they were called out to an incident in Youghal.

"It was dark. We came across two guys who we'd know. I hemmed them in with the car and we knew once we got out that there was going to be trouble. From the outset there was aggression and no positive response from them," Sgt Haughney added.

He said they tried to defend themselves, using batons and pepper spray, in accordance with protocols.

But the aggression got worse. "We could hear the stones hitting the car, hitting glass. Without warning I remember getting this thud in the head".

Sgt Haughney said he couldn't see properly and remembered John Tarrant standing over him and protecting him. "I just wanted it to end," he added.

Det Sgt Conor Gilmartin, currently attached to the national cyber crime bureau, told how he was targeted by an online stalker after his then colleagues at Shankill station in south Dublin were investigating a man.

He said he was attacked on several websites constantly and accused of being corrupt and evil. His ordeal began in 2010 and did not end until 2016 when the man was convicted of harassment and jailed. But he said he feared that it would begin again when the criminal was released from prison as he was totally unrepentant.

"I think the best thing I could do is robustly challenge it, which I did. If you're a victim of something you should make a statement and have it brought to court," he said.

Meanwhile, new research revealed that gardaí are facing a crisis in the investigation of road deaths and serious injuries.

Despite a 70pc increase in the number of serious injury collisions in the past four years, there has been a 40pc drop in trained investigators.

Irish Independent

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