Friday 17 August 2018

'Walk a mile in my shoes and then you will realise just how difficult the job can be' - gardai hit back at online criticism

GRA president Ciaran O’Neill speaks ahead of the ADM Picture: CONOR Ó MEARÁIN
GRA president Ciaran O’Neill speaks ahead of the ADM Picture: CONOR Ó MEARÁIN
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Rank and file Gardai are seeking an assurance that the new commissioner has a background in policing.

Leaders of the Garda Representative Association said they would be very concerned if their new boss was somebody with no working knowledge of the justice system.

Association president Ciaran O'Neill said he agreed that if the job was given to somebody from outside the State, the security and intelligence section would have to hived off from the Garda force.

He was speaking at the association's annual conference in Wexford this evening.

Mr O'Neill said the Garda was the envy of most police forces in the world because the policing and security sections were within a single force.

"You go back to 9/11 and one of the biggest issues was the breakdown of communications and they had to set up a body specifically for it".

The issue of hiving off security and intelligence from the Garda and setting up a separate agency has been under consideration by the independent policing commission.

But at the commission's initial press conference, chairwoman Kathleen O'Toole acknowledged that opinion was divided over Homeland Security which was set up after the 9/11 attacks.

Senior US and European police officers have also stated that Ireland was "very lucky" to have security included under the Garda umbrella in one organisation.

Last night Mr O'Neill said the Garda had a good record of dealing with terrorism, dating back to the 1960s.

"Just to show how good we are, we have had a second special criminal court set up. It's because we're able to deal with terrorism.

"There's no point in losing that. I don't think it would be best for An Garda Siochana", he added.

Mr O'Neill also defended the gardai against social media critics in the wake of some comments about the shooting of Mark Hennessy following the abduction and murder of Jastine Valdez over a week ago, although he did not refer specifically to that incident.

"It is quite easy for someone sitting in an armchair with a keyboard to be critical.

"Walk a mile in my shoes and then you will realise just how difficult the job can be and how stressful it is when you do have to make decisions because every garda on the street has to make spur of the moment decisions".

He added: "That gets lost a bit in the media, and particularly with social media these days, These are split second decisions and it comes down to a judgment call".

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