Monday 23 July 2018

EXCLUSIVE: 'Our fleet is as poor as parts of India, we don't have a single 4x4' - Donegal garda's appeal

Damage to the main Derry to Moville road in Co Donegal caused by the force of a flooded river overnight, after heavy rain left a trail of destruction. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA
Damage to the main Derry to Moville road in Co Donegal caused by the force of a flooded river overnight, after heavy rain left a trail of destruction. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA
Dunree Boxing Club owner James Doherty (centre) with managers Pauline and Fergal Doyle in Buncrana, Co Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Aine Durkin outside her flood-damaged home in Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A garda involved in the flood relief efforts in Donegal has likened the lack of resources to the challenges facing police in parts of India.

GRA representative for Donegal Brendan O’Connor said he and his colleagues have been battling the worst weather conditions in a century while using “family hatchbacks and estate cars”.

Despite the flooding crisis that has gripped Donegal this week, Independent.ie can reveal that gardaí do not have a single four-by-four available to them.

“The police in Delhi face the same problems as the gardaí in Bunbeg,” Mr O’Connor said, referring to a recent television documentary that detailed the inadequacy of the fleet facing police in Indian.

Dunree Boxing Club owner James Doherty (centre) with managers Pauline and Fergal Doyle in Buncrana, Co Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Dunree Boxing Club owner James Doherty (centre) with managers Pauline and Fergal Doyle in Buncrana, Co Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Damage to the main Derry to Moville road in Co Donegal caused by the force of a flooded river overnight, after heavy rain left a trail of destruction. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA

The documentary by Channel 4 details how police in the Indian region of Bengal have been forced to use goods trucks to transport prisoners.

But speaking to Independent.ie, Garda O’Connor said the fleet available to gardaí to deal with the flooding crisis is entirely inadequate.

“While the recent flooding was an unprecedented event it did however expose shortcomings in the gardai’s ability to respond to such incidents,” Garda  O’Connor said.

“The lack of any 4x4 vehicles places significant restrictions on gardai's ability to respond to the many and varied incidents which occur in Co Donegal.  The ruggedness of Donegal presents gardai with vast and challenging environments including coastal, mountainous and bog terrain,” he added.

Aine Durkin outside her flood-damaged home in Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Aine Durkin outside her flood-damaged home in Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Garda O’Connor praised all of his colleagues who have been at the forefront of response efforts this week.

Even in the absence of adverse weather conditions, gardai are reliant on on volunteers or other services to access remote and difficult locations.  Gardai have in recent weeks been involved in numerous search and recovery operations which are on the increase due to the increasing popularity of the County as an adventure and outdoor pursuit destination.

The one size fits all system of procurement and allocation of vehicles makes no sense when the policing and service requirements across the country are so varied.  4WD vehicles are deemed necessary for motorways and city based traffic units, yet those providing a service in some of the most rugged and challenging physical environments are given family hatchbacks and estate cars.”

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