Gardai to spend €500,000 on batons and protective riot gear
An Garda Siochana is to spend €500,000 on batons and riot gear after it was found that public-order officers were having to share clothing and equipment.
A review by the Garda Inspectorate in April raised concerns that the "pooling" of equipment could create health and safety risks for members.
It also noted that borrowed clothing "may not fit properly".
The authority is now seeking tenders for the supply of more than 2,000 items of riot gear and protective clothing, including hundreds of batons, riot boots and gloves, and blunt-trauma protectors for arms, legs and thighs.
The estimated value of the contract is €500,000.
More than €80,000 was spent on riot gear at the beginning of 2016, when a range of specialist equipment was bought from Cork-based Anderco Safety (Ireland), which is part-owned by rugby legend Tom Kiernan.
On that occasion, the company supplied 150 batons, 150 pairs of riot gloves and boots, 150 flame-retardant headovers, and 300 sets of thigh, leg and arm protectors.
The current tender is also seeking 150 tailored coveralls.
A total of 400 flame-retardant turtlenecks and 200 hard plastic batons will also be included.
The Garda Inspectorate review noted there were delays in issuing personal protective equipment (PPE) to members of the National Public Order Unit (NPOU).
There were 73 members in need of specialist gear at the time of the report.
It also found that some equipment was beyond the maker's recommended lifespan, and that there had been equipment failures during training.
Public order suits also exceeded the recommended limit for washing.
"There needs to be more structured strategic integrated planning to ensure that the training of new NPOU members matches public procurement's funds and priorities," the report stated.
"It is of paramount importance that members are equipped with the proper personal protective equipment in order to ensure their safety and to allow them to carry out their duty to protect the public to the highest possible standard," said a spokesperson for An Garda Siochana.