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"You'd think we got 55 new gardaí" - senior officers aren't impressed with the new armed unit

The unit was announced by Frances Fitzgerald this week.

Image: Niall Carson

A LEADING GARDA has said that the proposed new armed unit for Dublin will only serve to drag gardaí from existing duties.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, John Jacob of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said that justice minister Frances Fitzgerald’s pledge of a new unit was a “whitewash”.

He added that the announcement was not a reaction to this week’s murders of Eddie Hutch and David Byrne, but had been announced to members of the force in December.

When you read the minister’s statement, you’d think we got 55 new gardaí. These are guards that are already serving the public.

“This is not a new announcement. They’ve already commenced recruitment of the unit.

“This is the kernel of the problem – we didn’t recruit for so long and we lost 2,000 members.

We should see this as the whitewash it is.

When asked about the “saturation policing” strategy being adopted – placing large numbers of armed gardaí on the streets – he said it is not a strategy the force can commit to.

“It is high-intensity policing that is not sustainable. The checkpoints are welcome, but we need more resources.”

Jacob said that the issue was a question of manpower and more gardaí were needed above all else.

Asked about whether there should have been gardaí at the Regency Hotel last Friday when it was known that gangland figures would be in attendance, he said that the ability to gather intelligence had been hampered.

The commissioner has people on the ground, but because we have fewer people, the ability to gather intelligence has been reduced.

“I suspect if you knew that there were going to be a large number of criminals there, there would be some surveillance there.

“But if there were unarmed gardaí, I would have been concerned for their safety.”

Read: Gardaí appeal for public’s help in tracing second vehicle used in shooting of Eddie Hutch

Read: Eddie Hutch investigation: Gardaí await DNA test results from getaway car

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