THE garda patrol car that broke down when detectives were rushing to a gangland murder on Wednesday was back on the road last night.
After a quick repair job, officers were told to start using the 2004 Ford Focus again.
Yesterday the Herald revealed that the unmarked car stalled in heavy traffic as it responded to reports of gunfire in a Dublin business park.
Gintaras Zelvys (43), a rapist and criminal involved in the cash for clothes trade, was shot dead during the Rathcoole attack, which sources believe was carried out by his own gang.
Gardai are understood to be furious that the unreliable car is back on duty.
"Would they not just get rid of this thing? It is a joke. A lot of eyebrows have been raised about this," said a source.
Members of the public had to help a detective push the car off the busy road just minutes after Zelvys was shot dead at the Greenogue Industrial Estate.
Sources say that the clutch and gear box broke just after the officer drove past Fitzmaurice Road, Rathcoole.
Another detective from Rathcoole Garda Station who was driving into work at the station in his own vehicle picked him up and the two officers then drove to the murder scene.
Our exclusive photo shows the car back at Rathcoole Garda Station yesterday.
The car is nine years old and has more than 200,000km on the clock.
Sources say that officers are "shocked" that the car made a return to work.
At this week's Garda Representative Association conference in Westport, Co Mayo, the association's vice-president Dermot O'Brien said the size of the garda fleet had fallen from 2,814 vehicles in December 2009 to 2,444 in March 2013 and there had been a 30pc drop in the number of marked patrol cars over the past three years.
He said the Government had purchased 80 small commercial-type vans.
They could only take two gardai if they were being called to a public order incident, while the small compartment in the rear to hold a prisoner had no safety belts or air bags.
Officers said they were being sent out in family saloons and small vans to catch criminals using high-powered vehicles
"We might as well be provided with lawnmowers to keep up," said GRA president John Parker.
Another GRA official officer explained: "It's akin to putting a snail against a hare."