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Garda using pepper spray on anti-austerity protesters outside the Dáil in 2013. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
arms raised

Gardaí: 'Batons and pepper spray won't deter religious fundamentalists'

Garda representatives are calling for tasers to be introduced.

IT’S TIME FOR the Garda Representative Association’s annual conference and, yet again, tasers are on the agenda.

This time, however, they’ve taken a new angle on it all – they need them to handle potential attacks from religious fundamentalists.

Speaking to reporters this evening ahead of the conference in Tullow, Co Carlow tomorrow, GRA President Dermot O’Brien said rank and file gardaí will be the first ones on the scene.

“The chances of it being an armed member are very slim,” he explained.

If you have religious fundamentalist and they’re determined to do what they’re going to do, I don’t think an ASP [baton] and pepper spray is going to deter them.

“We have no less lethal form of protection. We have the ASP, we have pepper spray and we have the gun; we have nothing in between.”

The Garda delegates stressed that they were not asking for every member of the force to be issued with the weapon, just for each division to have one available if needed.

O’Brien said the taser could also be a deterrent against assaults, as he revealed tonight that figures for the year so far show 600 gardaí have been injured in the line of duty and almost half of the injuries were sustained in assaults.

A motion at tomorrow’s conference will call on the government to introduce specific sentencing for criminals who have assaulted a member of An Garda Síochána.

We’ll be reporting from this year’s GRA Annual Delegate Conference in Tullow, over the next two days so keep an eye out and follow @michellehtweet for updates throughout the day.

Read: Machine guns, tazers and pay rises on agenda for rank and file gardaí>

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