IT IS time to bring back garda drivers for government ministers’ state cars, Fianna Fail justice spokesman, Niall Collins, said today.
Mr Collins’ comments follow an incident in Dublin during which former Taoiseach Brian Cowen was barracked, abused and menaced by anti-water demonstrators.
The Fianna Fail spokesman said he was not saying Mr Cowen should have a state car as a former Taoiseach – something which automatically happened until the current government took office in March 2011.
“But I am saying the Government should ensure a review of Mr Cowen’s security and that of other former office holders. If they deemed it appropriate to give former office holders a car and garda driver, I would not object,” Mr Collins told Independnt.ie.
On Thursday in central Dublin demonstrators shouted abuse at Mr Cowen, calling him a “scumbag, a traitor and a sell-out”.
A video of the incident, posted by the radio station 4FM, shows protesters following the former Taoiseach to his car which had been festooned with balloons and posters.
The Fianna Fail Limerick TD said the move by the current Fine Gael-Labour government in March 2011 to dispense with garda ministerial drivers was “a populist gesture” which was false.
“Utterly no money was saved by this deeply cynical move dressed up as an economy. In practice retired gardai, who had been paid their pensions and lump sums, came back as civilian drivers,” Mr Collins said.
Mr Collins said that every citizen was entitled to their dignity and should not be open to be abused in public in the way in which Mr Cowen had been. “It is the duty of the Government to ensure steps are taken to minimise the risk of such occurrences,” he added.
The Fianna Fail TD said that, after the Tanaiste was blocked in and delayed by anti-water protesters in Tallaght last November, he had told Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald he supported the principle of gardai being restored to drive state cars.