Tuesday 22 January 2019

Gardaí had to get a lift from Army to deal with civil unrest

Cars were burned out in Tallaght on Friday, during a night of unrest that led to gardaí being ferried in by the Defence Forces
Cars were burned out in Tallaght on Friday, during a night of unrest that led to gardaí being ferried in by the Defence Forces
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Senior gardaí are to review the deployment of the force's fleet of high-powered vehicles after they had to call in the Army to ferry personnel from across the capital to help deal with an outbreak of looting in Tallaght.

But officers said last night that the transport difficulties they faced on Friday evening were a "once-off" as a result of snow drifts and treacherous road conditions.

The decision to seek help from the Army and the civil defence was also taken as a result of time constraints, as reinforcements were badly needed after local officers came under attack from stone-throwing gangs.

The Army deployed a massive 6x6 Scania truck to ferry officers from outside districts to the main flashpoint area at Fortunestown Lane, while Civil Defence vehicles were used to deploy 16 gardaí from the Public Order Unit to the scene.

An Garda Síochána has a fleet of 4x4 vehicles, which are located in each district and division and are available to the specialist units and the Traffic Corps.

After receiving initial reports of looting at the Lidl store in Fortunestown Lane, Tallaght gardaí sent out a patrol in a 4x4 to investigate.

But heavy snow drifts and barriers, which had been erected to hamper their approach, meant that the patrol could not reach the scene.

The officers then attempted to gain access on foot, but came under attack.

Senior gardaí initially considered sending reinforcements from the armed support units on duty in the city and public order units in their own vehicles.

But an officer explained last night that in the interests of safety and the need to deploy the reinforcements as quickly as possible to the scene, it was decided to ask the military and civil defence to help out with their transport vehicles.

He pointed out that in normal circumstances the gardaí could have coped using their own resources, but the conditions and time constraints they faced in an extraordinary situation on Friday meant it was more practical and safe to seek help from the other agencies.

An overall examination of the difficulties they encountered and the resources they had available to them would be carried out, he said.

Meanwhile, the Defence Forces deployed 1,200 personnel and 350 vehicles to tackle a range of tasks in support of the civil authorities over the past few days.

An additional 33 vehicles, including 4x4s, 6x6s and snow ploughs, and 220 personnel were deployed yesterday morning, with back-up from troops in barracks around the country.

The main focus of the military operations was to ensure that the HSE could provide essential services. The Army provided doctor/paramedic support, patient transfer and logistical help in clearing snow and ice at critical locations.

Most of the military were deployed in Wexford, Kildare and Laois, with tasks including providing an ambulance service in Wexford, patient transfers and transferring essential medical and prison service staff.

Irish Independent

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