Monday 19 March 2018

Retired sergeant is forced to ring gardai four times to report incident

Austin Foran: retired from the gardai after 34 years' service
Austin Foran: retired from the gardai after 34 years' service

Louise Walsh and  Breda Heffernan

A FORMER garda sergeant has spoken of his "frustration" after he phoned gardai four times to report a man acting dangerously in traffic.

Retired sergeant Austin Foran said the experience "would put you off ringing the guards again."

He hit out a what he called the "nonsensical" garda geographical regions which saw him having to call a station nearly 25km away in Co Meath to respond to an incident that was taking place just 10 minutes from Drogheda garda station in Co Louth.


Mr Foran became concerned after seeing a man acting dangerously and deliberately jumping in front of traffic at Julianstown in Co Meath.

He suspected that the man was either on drugs or hallucinating and attempted to contact gardai last Friday afternoon.

"I saw a man receiving a glancing blow as he side- stepped traffic at about 5.40pm.

"The man then tried to stop an articulated truck which inched forward through the village. The fact that traffic was at a snail's pace probably saved his life.

"I was afraid that he might try to stop someone who would panic, press the accelerator and run him over."

Mr Foran telephoned Laytown garda station twice which, at 4km from the scene, was the nearest station but there was no answer. He then dialled 999.

The emergency operator put him through to Navan garda station, some 25km away, who told him they were already aware of the incident and were en route.

"I waited nearly 20 minutes and then rang Laytown station again.

"I was diverted to Ashbourne gardai who said the matter was in hand.

"I left before gardai arrived and on my way home saw the man trying to stop another car near Bettystown," said Mr Foran a former sergeant based at Balbriggan and who retired in 2005.

"A few years ago, Julianstown was linked to Drogheda station which is less than 10 minutes away, but now Ashbourne and Navan are the nearest main stations, both of which are nearly 25km away. It doesn't make sense," he said.

"As a retired member of the force with 34 years' service, I felt utter frustration at the situation – imagine what a civilian would feel."


Mr Foran also claimed that resource pressure on the force meant that young gardai were not getting enough training or opportunities to know their own region.

"I rang the gardai three times and not once was I asked for my own details, which is a matter of form in cases of a fatality or where witnesses might be needed.

"Even from a training point of view, management just don't have the time."

He said it wasn't logical to expect a garda to have knowledge of an area over 25km away from where they are based.

The former sergeant said morale in the force had "hit an all-time low" and gardai were not getting enough support from the Government.

"They need financial security but they have taken big hits of up to €80 on their salary.

"My own pension is down €160 a month," he said.

Gardai in Navan said that, as the divisional headquarters, it acts as the control centre for the region's 999 calls.

They confirmed they received a call in relation to the incident and dispatched the information to Ashbourne gardai.

Gardai in Ashbourne said they were able to respond to the call quickly as a patrol car was in the general area and arrived around 6pm.

Irish Independent

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