Gardai pay out almost €1.5m on gun lessons for its elite officers
An Garda Siochana has spent almost €1.5m on gun training for its elite units in the fight against organised crime gangs and potential terrorist threats.
In the first nine months of this year alone almost €200,000 was used to train gardai to use a firearm - but this figure does not include the new Armed Support Unit (ASU) who began their training in September.
The Herald can reveal that since 2010 a total of €1,441,757.80 was spent at the Firearms Training Unit at the Garda Training College, Templemore, Co Tipperary and Garda HQ.
This facility is used for basic and refresher gun training courses, development of training strategies, and research into new firearms and equipment.
It provides initial training for the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU), as well as training and annual refresher training for the Regional Support Unit (RSU).
Gardai attached to a District Detective Unit (DDU) are also provided with initial training and refresher courses.
The training unit carries out training at both garda and military facilities around the country.
The ERU, an elite section of the Special Detective Unit (SDU), primarily focuses on 'high-end' crime including dissident republicans and organised crime gangs.
Its heavily-armed members were forced to patrol the streets of Dublin following the Regency Hotel murder on February 5, when Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne (33) was shot dead.
Elite garda snipers were also deployed for the funerals of Byrne and Eddie Hutch Snr (59), who was shot dead on February 8.
The rare deployment of specially-trained marksmen was in anticipation of any planned retaliatory attacks from gangs involved in the Hutch/Kinahan feud. Each of the six garda regions has an RSU attached to it, which respond to armed incidents including shootings and aggravated burglaries.
Up to September of this year, a total of €183,857.51 in subsistence allowance was paid to firearms instructors for the provision of firearm training.
The highest figure paid was in 2010, when costs exceeded €250,000. The lowest total figure was in 2012, when €176,025.88 in costs was associated to firearm instructors.
Each individual garda trained in the use of a firearm must do a minimum of two live firearm refresher training sessions and tackle one computer-generated situation - known as FATS (Firearms Training Simulator) - each year to retain their authorisation to carry a firearm. Since 2013, 10,049 gardai have received basic training and refresher courses.
A further €1.2m has been spent on ballistic and anti-stab vests that were purchased by An Garda Siochana since 2010, with this year showing a massive increase in money spent on the equipment.
In the first nine months of 2016, a total of €263,883 was spent on protective equipment for Garda members.
This was more than what was spent in the previous five individual years on ballistic and anti-stab vests.
The Herald previously revealed how gardai manning protection posts and checkpoints as part of the Hutch/Kinahan feud claimed that they were denied gun training and bulletproof vests.
This is despite the high risk in unarmed gardai carrying out operations where there is a higher risk of a gun attack.