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Queen's visit will hit war on gangs -- gardai

RANK-and-file gardai fear that cash to battle serious crime will instead be spent on policing the visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama.

The issue is being highlighted by members of the Garda Representative Association, who will meet the force's commissioner, Martin Callinan, at their annual conference in Westport today.

Gardai say they are aware of the threat posed by terrorists and dissident republicans to the visits of the US President and Queen Elizabeth, which take place within days next month. Garda leave is set to be cancelled and millions of euro is likely to be spent on garda overtime for the event.

GRA President Damien McCarthy said that the association was worried that there would not be enough money left for regular policing.

A large garda security operation also started this evening for the visit of the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama. He will speak at a conference at Citywest tomorrow and will also visit Kildare and Limerick.

Gardai say that while the PSNI has been given an extra €300m to tackle the dissident republican threat, the budget for the garda's armed Operation Anvil -- which is increasingly being used to target dissidents here -- has been cut from €21m to €10m.

Meanwhile, rank-and-file gardai have praised a Dublin gardai who was hurt while making an arrest in Raheny recently.

GRA President McCarthy paid tribute to Garda Richard Herity, who was stabbed in the face during the course of an arrest in Raheny nine days ago. Garda Herity who received 30 stitches during the course of arresting a man on Main Street in Raheny. He underwent surgery afterwards for his injury.

"He definitely saved a life," Garda McCarthy told the Herald, adding there should be a "much, much more stiffer penalty" for those who "demonstrate zero respect for a member of An Garda Siochana".

The GRA president stated that, on average, two gardai a day were the victims of assault while on duty. Garda McCarthy called on greater "legal protection" when gardai become the "victims of crime". Any person found guilty of the manslaughter of a garda should receive a mandatory life sentence, he stated. Garda McCarthy also cited the case of the tragic death of Garda Robbie McCallion as an incident which "struck a chord with members".

Nineteen-year-old James Grenaghan was acquitted of the manslaughter of Garda McCallion, who was struck by a car while investigating the report of a car theft in Letterkenny on March 26, 2009.

When asked if there should be a mandatory life sentence for anyone found guilty of manslaughter of a guard, he said: "Most definitely".