herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

25 extra gardai to deal with Drogheda feud as Harris promises action

Garda boss Drew Harris
Garda boss Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has promised 25 extra gardai for feud-torn Drogheda.

His commitment came yesterday at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference in Killarney, Co Kerry.

"The minister and I have been in contact over the last months around this feud," Mr Harris told reporters.

"So what I was able to inform the minister of today is that next month we will increase the establishment in Drogheda itself by a further 25 members."

Speaking after meeting Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Mr Harris said the number of personnel in armed support units was being increased, with an additional 79 members to be transferred into them by the end of the year.

He also said a new unit would be established in Cavan, but rejected the GRA's demand for an armed response unit in every division, insisting they would remain deployed on a regional basis.

Earlier, Mr Flanagan said gardai would have an extra 300 new garda vehicles by the end of the year, as well as improved IT capabilities.

He also rejected assertions by rank-and-file gardai that they are not properly resourced.

Mr Flanagan spoke to reporters at the GRA conference, where he denied claims by national executive member Gda Damien McCarthy that he was "negligent" in relation to the budget handed out to gardai by the Government.

The minister repeatedly pointed out that gardai had been given "record resources" of €1.76bn this year and denied he had misled the public about garda resources.

Thugs

He said he was "very concerned" about the "unacceptable" feud, which he described was being led by "a small number of thugs, all of whom are known to gardai".

Meanwhile, members of An Garda Siochana will take part in Dublin's Pride parade in uniform for the first time this year.

Mr Harris made the ann- ouncement yesterday.

In 2017, uniformed gardai joined their PSNI colleagues at Belfast's Pride parade.

PSNI officers and staff have been involved in the festival there for many years, but 2017 was the first time they took part in uniform.

Members of the Garda Marching Band have been involved in Dublin's Pride parade since 2014.

Mr Harris also said in his speech to delegates that garda units will be provided with 2,000 smartphones by the end of the year, which will give them instant access to a host of information on criminals and suspect vehicles.

"We are currently looking at how to best distribute these throughout the country," Mr Harris said.

"Thousands more smartphones will then be provided in 2020."

Earlier, the GRA again highlighted the issue of lack of resources.

"Gardai are weary of hearing about grand ideas that don't have the money to make them a reality," GRA president Jim Mulligan told the minister.

H e warned Mr Flanagan that the Government would have to fully finance the recommendations made in the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland report.

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