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All gardai should carry stun guns, insists judge

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A Taser X26 is demonstrated. Photo: Reuters

A Taser X26 is demonstrated. Photo: Reuters

A Taser X26 is demonstrated. Photo: Reuters

A JUDGE has called for Taser stun guns to be issued to gardai to deal with out of control public order incidents – backing up proposals made by the organisation which represents rank-and-file gardai.

Tasers are restricted to trained members of the armed Emergency Response Unit, based in Dublin, and the five Regional Response Units.

However, it is understood that garda management are now examining different makes of Taser to see which would be the most appropriate for widespread use here.

Yesterday Judge Anthony Halpin, who was presiding at the Dublin Children's Court, heard that a 17-year-old boy bit a garda's leg during a melee in Temple Bar.

Gardai had to use an incapacitant spray. However, the judge, who described the incident as "savage", said: "Incapacitant sprays do not work after time. If someone gets out of control, they should be able to use those Tasers."

He added that other police forces, particularly in the US, use the stun guns.

"I cannot see why the Commissioner does not authorise them for gardai trying to maintain public order. I firmly believe gardai should have Tasers," he said.

With around 800 assaults on gardai a year – leading to rising compensation claims from the force – garda management is considering increasing the Tasers available.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) told the Herald it has been campaigning for years for the widespread introduction of the guns, which administer an electric shock.

"We called for the introduction of the common use of Tasers a number of years ago. We still believe it would play a part in protecting officers as they go about their work," a spokesperson said.

At the Children's Court yesterday, a 17-year-old boy had pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Niall McLoughlin. Judge Halpin adjourned the case until September to allow time for a probation report.

kfoy@herald.ie


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