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Officers fear walkie-talkie sets pose risk to their health

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New approach: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

New approach: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

New approach: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Gardai believe their radio system poses a risk to their health.

The annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) heard that the force may have been used as "guinea pigs" for the introduction of the Tetra system here, without proper studies being carried out in advance on health and safety grounds.

The conference was told there were particular concerns about using the hand-held terminals, or walkie-talkie sets, in garda patrol cars or stations.

Association vice-president Willie Gleeson said Tetra was an encrypted and safe radio system that could not be hacked.

But he said members were concerned about health issues and an investigation should be carried out to determine if action should be taken.

He said some experts had warned that using the Tetra sets indoors was similar to being in a microwave oven.

The only protection for gardaí using their sets in a patrol vehicle was to wind down the windows.

He also said people living near radio masts or aerials could be at risk and that needed further study.

Meanwhile, AGSI vice-president Antoinette Cunningham said Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan had fallen out of favour with the officers who were her front-line supervisors due to a lack of engagement which she claimed was "totally and utterly unacceptable".

She said the association had been unsuccessful on four occasions in trying to organise a meeting with the commissioner or the director of human resources to discuss important issues such as sick pay.

She said a small group of AGSI officials had met with the commissioner on February 9, when she had used the phrase "constructive engagement".

But since then, it was disappointing she had left front-line members with no definition of occupational injury, no guidelines as to what constituted a critical illness and no policy on previous injuries on duty.

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