ON AVERAGE, TWO members of An Garda Síochána are assaulted every day.
That is according to the Garda Representative Association who also say the number of attacks is rising.
Calling on the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence to introduce appropriate legislation to deal with such crimes, the GRA president John Parker said the stab-proof vest is not the only protection that the State should afford its frontline staff.
Welcoming the seven-year sentence handed down to Andrew Freaney last week for a brutal assault on Garda Helena Power in Tipperary, Parker used the opportunity to call for mandatory sentencing for assaults on all emergency services personnel.
He said that the severe sentence for Freaney is a “significant step towards an effective deterrent” to protect those on the frontline.
“In the absence of mandatory sentencing for assaults on gardaí we rely on the judiciary to maximise the penalty and send out a signal that gardaí will be protected and that an attack on a garda is an attack on the authority of the State,” added Parker.
In the Freaney case, the judge imposed an increased sentence because of the savage nature of the assault and the serious injuries incurred by Power.
According to local media, her right eye-socket was fractured in four places as a result of a kick she received at a Halloween bonfire in Clonmel in 2008. She required 14 stitches, as well as two operations to correct her eyesight.
Parker called on Minister Shatter not to wait until another “horrific incident” impacts a public servant before galvanising the government to tackle similar crimes.
“Any assault on a garda is a direct attack on our community,” he continued, “gardaí police by the consent of the people of Ireland and protect our democratic society from descending into lawlessness.”
Our profession is one of the very few requiring workers to routinely wear anti-stab vests. The GRA has repeatedly asked for greater protection for our members, both in terms of resources and legal challenges.
Freaney was sentenced to 10 years in prison last Friday but the last three years were suspended on condition of good behaviour.