Sunday 15 December 2019

Gardai involved in policing water protests threatened and assaulted - union

Three assaults a day recorded on officers

Anti water meter protesters try to block Taoiseach Enda Kenny leaving Santry after he officially launched the Sports Surgery Clinic Research Foundation
Anti water meter protesters try to block Taoiseach Enda Kenny leaving Santry after he officially launched the Sports Surgery Clinic Research Foundation

Niall O’Connor

Gardai have been subjected to both direct and online threats because of their presence at water protests, representatives of rank-and-file officers has claimed.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) today warned that officers involved in policing water protests are becoming increasingly concerned for their safety.

GRA President Dermot O’Brien said members have been subjected to threats to their personal safety and property, both directly and online.

"Rank and file gardaí do not make laws, and are required to pay the charges themselves," he said.

"Members work with peaceful protesters, but this darker element is to be condemned by the public, media and our political leaders.

"Gardaí are increasingly concerned that the uniform no longer offers the protection of our democratic society."

Mr O'Brien said that his organisation has seen “steadily increasingly assaults” on rank-and-file gardai.

"The number of assaults on gardaí have been steadily increasing - running at around three per day - yet this has not been headline news, and was in danger of being seen as an occupational hazard," he continued.

"An assault on a garda is an assault on Irish society and our communities."

He claimed recent protests, notably in North Dublin, are causing concern for gardaí on the frontline.

In several cases, members have been subjected to threats to their personal safety and property both directly and online from individuals opposed to the introduction of the water charges, he said.

The GRA says it has now asked garda management to step up resources to protect its members from threats.

The stark warning from the representative body comes on the back of a series of unruly protests in areas such as Coolock, Santry and Phibsboro.

Read more: Water protests infiltrated by dissidents as meters on hold

A number of ministers, including Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton, have criticised “fringe elements” of these demonstrations. 

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News