Saturday 24 February 2018

GRA wants fast driving course

Frontline gardai are demanding an end to high-speed car chases until they are trained in fast driving.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said officers fear risking their lives during dangerous pursuits after criminals.

Garda Dave McMahon, of Tralee, Co Kerry, claimed the official training was not up to scratch.

"Our concern is we are endangering ourselves, our passengers and obviously other road users," he said.

Officers are only allowed to travel at high speed, using flashing blue lights and sirens, for more serious and emergency cases, such as armed robberies and murders.

Garda McMahon, a delegate at the GRA annual conference, said members want a new advanced course covering high-speed chases at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Currently there is a standard two-week driving course for recruits, but a backlog means many officers are driving without even the basic training, on the authority of a chief superintendent, said Garda McMahon.

Officers are also worried about being investigated by the independent Garda Ombudsman or being hauled before the courts for traffic violations.

The GRA, which represents rank and file officers, passed a motion at the conference in Westport, Co Mayo, demanding an end to fast car chases until training and regulations are overhauled.

But the grassroots officers have also complained that patrol cars are not powerful enough.

Garda Tony Ferris, of the traffic corps in Co Wexford, said they were losing old cars from the force's fleet at a rate of one a day and they are not being replaced because of cutbacks.

Many of the cars they are left with are not fast enough to catch up with more powerful vehicles on the road, he said.

Citing a recent incident in Gorey, Co Wexford, Garda Ferris said an English-registered car sped past his roadblock and could not be caught by officers in the neighbouring district either.

"In that instance I actually felt deflated that I couldn't do my job because of the equipment that was provided to me," he said.

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