Monday 19 August 2019

Garda chief's car hits bollard after officer raises barrier to stop the unmarked vehicle

Security convoy: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Security convoy: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Gardaí said "normal procedures" were followed during a security alert at the organisation's HQ involving an unmarked PSNI vehicle carrying the Garda Commissioner.

Commissioner Drew Harris was being escorted in a joint Garda and PSNI convoy from Northern Ireland when it was damaged by a security bollard.

A vehicle being driven by members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit gained entry to the Phoenix Park complex.

However, a garda on duty at the gate pressed an emergency button when they saw the approaching and unmarked vehicle with Northern Ireland registration plates carrying the Commissioner.

Security bollards were raised from the ground following the alert and the PSNI vehicle crashed into them, causing damage to the vehicle.

No injuries were reported to the Garda Commissioner or the officers during the incident on Monday, March 25.

In a statement, gardaí said they do not comment on operational matters but "normal procedure" was followed.

"Where An Garda Síochána and PSNI carry out any operational activity in either jurisdiction it is within the law and with full permission and knowledge of the host service," a Garda spokeswoman said. "Both An Garda Síochána and PSNI are content normal procedure was followed."

Sources said the PSNI was regularly involved in armed escorts with Garda Commissioner Harris from Northern Ireland, but this escort was usually taken over by gardaí at the Border.

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said Mr Harris needed to clarify the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"My understanding is that, contrary to standard procedure, Commissioner Harris did not change between PSNI and Garda vehicles at the Border and continued to Dublin from the North in the PSNI vehicle.

"This raises a series of questions about why standard procedure was abandoned, whether gardaí on duty at the Phoenix Park were informed of this and if not, why not?

"I would call on him to immediately make a statement and clarify this matter," Mr Ó Laoghaire said.

Irish Independent

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