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Sunday 27 May 2018

Gardaí feel ‘betrayed’ by government, says GRA president

Garda Representative Association president Dermot O'Brien Photo: Courtpix

Meadhbh McGrath

Ahead of their annual conference in Killarney this evening, the president of the Garda Representative Association has spoken about the anger and disillusion felt by its members.

Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Dermot O’Brien said that the issue of pay is top of the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

He noted that it has consumed the last two conferences, and called for the restoration of pay which has been cut by 25pc since 2009.

The GRA represents over 10,000 Gardaí, and Mr O’Brien described the members as “angered and disillusioned”.

“They feel betrayed by the government, and by Garda management,” he said.

He added that “the perfect storm” is gathering for Gardaí and other members of the public service who feel it is time “to repay that faith, and to restore and reward us”.

Mr O’Brien also discussed the issue of arming the police force, which is set to be debated at the GRA conference.

When asked whether having an unarmed force is realistic in a time of increasingly violent crime, he said: “We’re the envy of the policing world, the fact that we are unarmed.”

Garda Representative Association president Dermot O'Brien Photo: Courtpix
Garda Representative Association president Dermot O'Brien Photo: Courtpix

Read more: Gardaí fear their unarmed status is leaving them vulnerable

However, he went on to say that as society is becoming “a lot more dangerous”, Gardaí should be armed with an “intermediate form of force”.

“We have a retractable baton, known as an asp, and pepper spray, then the next jump from that is straight to a gun. We have nothing in between that members could use to defend themselves,” he said.

He mentioned tasers and bean-bag guns as examples of intermediate forms that could be introduced.

“The respect for the Gardaí seems to be gone at this moment in time,” he added.

Mr O’Brien described the dangerous aspects of police work as “part and parcel of the job”, referring to the recent shooting at the Regency hotel and the deaths of Adrian Donohoe and Tony Golden.

“These incidents can happen any day. We are the only members of public service who go into work and have to put on a stab-proof vest and a utility belt which carries handcuffs, a retractable baton and pepper spray,” he said.

“No other public servant feels that vulnerable when they go to work on a daily basis, but that’s what we face.”

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