Thursday 22 August 2019

Now incident with Garda chief's car blamed on bollard 'malfunctioning'

Car damaged: Drew Harris was returning from the North. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA
Car damaged: Drew Harris was returning from the North. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Garda HQ now says an incident involving the Garda Commissioner's armed PSNI escort last month was a "bollard malfunction" and not a security alert.

This week it emerged that an unmarked PSNI 4x4 escorting Commissioner Drew Harris was damaged after striking a bollard as it entered Garda Headquarters in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

The bollard was raised as the vehicle entered, catching the Range Rover underneath its body and bringing it to a stop during the incident on March 25. No injuries were reported but questions have been raised over why PSNI officers were escorting the Commissioner south of the Border.

In a statement yesterday, Garda HQ said the bollards were activated as a result of a malfunction and reaffirmed that "normal movement procedures were followed".

"There was no security incident at Garda HQ on March 25, 2019. A newly installed bollard malfunctioned and caught the underside of the vehicle the commissioner was travelling in," the statement said.

"This happened at a walking pace. No vehicles were flipped. The malfunction was quickly fixed and vehicular traffic went in and out of Garda HQ as normal that day.

"As per our previous statement, normal movement procedures were followed in relation to the Commissioner."

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said there needed to be a review of what took place and added that it was "hard to understand" how it took 48 hours to clarify the initial reports of the incident.

It had earlier been reported that a garda on duty at the gate activated the security bollards after the unmarked and Northern-registered Range Rover drove towards the Garda HQ.

An unmarked 4x4 being driven by members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU), which was part of the escort, gained entry without incident immediately before the PSNI vehicle.

Unlike previous Garda Commissioners, Mr Harris, a former member of the RUC and the PSNI and the first outsider to lead the force, is accompanied by a significant level of security on both sides of the Border. In the Republic, the ERU provides round-the-clock armed protection for the Garda chief.

Normally after paying visits to his home in the North, ERU members collect Mr Harris from his PSNI minders at the Border and then travel to Garda HQ.

Questions have been raised over why this did not occur last month, when the PSNI officers drove the Garda Commissioner across the Border and on to Dublin.

While the Commissioner has not publicly commented on the incident, Garda HQ has continued to state all normal procedures were followed.

Irish Independent

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