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Monday 27 March 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Alamy Stock Photo Gardaí on patrol in Cork city.
# Douglas
Cork suburb reaching policing 'crisis point' following redeployment of gardaí to Taoiseach's home
A garda, responding alone to a violent domestic, was stabbed and forced to wait for 14 minutes for assistance.

GARDAÍ WHO ARE normally tasked to cover emergency calls for an entire suburb of Cork city have been redeployed to protect the Taoiseach’s home, sources have said.

The Journal has spoken to multiple security sources and local representatives who say that the policing situation in the 26,000-person suburb of Douglas is at crisis point.

The problem has been exacerbated by a need to provide Garda security outside Micheál Martin’s home, which has been required since the Fianna Fáil leader was elected Taoiseach.

At least one garda must be posted outside the Taoiseach’s house 24 hours a day.

Until recently, this security was provided to Martin using Garda overtime – and as such, did not come out of the regular Garda roster.

Up to March, Garda overtime was also being used to fill the shortfall in patrol gardaí in Douglas, some of whom were instead spending time outside the Taoiseach’s house.

But after that date, the overtime allocation to pay for an extra guard to work on a shift was cancelled – it is not known why this decision was taken. 

It now means that gardaí from the regular policing unit, who normally respond to calls from the community, are tasked with covering the static protection post near the Taoiseach’s home. 

Sources have said this has had a major impact on the policing service in Douglas and necessitates that the call volume must be carried by other units in already stretched stations across the southside of the city.  

Multiple sources have confirmed that a week after this overtime allocation ended, a garda who was stationed in nearby Passage responded alone to a domestic dispute in the Douglas area. 

While dealing with this dispute the garda was stabbed and in a struggle desperately held the armed suspect on the ground until assistance came from Ballincollig, which arrived 14 minutes after the initial call for help.

Such was the violent nature of the incident that members of the Armed Support Unit also travelled to the scene and the suspect was brought under control with the use of a taser. 

A garda spokesperson has confirmed the incident occurred.

“While attending an incident in the Douglas area, on Thursday 24 March, 2022, at approximately 6.45pm a Garda member from Passage West Garda station received an injury to their hand. The Garda member has received treatment for this injury.

“A male was detained under the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2001. Due to the sensitive nature of this incident, An Garda Síochána will not be providing further comment,” the spokesperson said. 

Sources have confirmed that the garda involved is still out on sick leave following the incident.  

Multiple sources have said that gardaí in Cork city, across junior to senior ranks, have written reports and spoken in person to senior management about the issue. 

Sources have said a security and threat assessment by the Special Detective Unit determined that more than a dozen gardaí and three sergeants were required on a full-time basis to offer appropriate cover for the Taoiseach. 

This recommendation, would mean that a dedicated team of gardaí would be deployed to protect the Taoiseach allowing normal policing to be carried out in Douglas. It has not been adopted by garda management.


Douglas, like other garda stations, came under the Fine Gael strategy of Smart Policing initiative post 2013 and numbers were reduced

The area is a sub-district of Togher Garda Station and there has been an arrangement that Douglas would be covered by Togher units but sources have said that the call load in that area is such that this is impossible.

Sources have said that the garda estimate of the Togher District is more than 65,000 as it includes major residential areas in Carrigaline, Douglas, Crosshaven and Passage. 

To try and fill the policing gap in all of those areas unit sergeants have moved gardaí, during shifts, in to those areas to fill spaces in patrol cars. 

One source, speaking anonymously as they feared being disciplined for commenting, said that urgent action was needed to deal with the problem caused by the protection post, namely the reduction in garda presence.

“We are not just giving out, we are not whingers. This is a major problem and garda management are well aware of it. 

“The protection post for the Taoiseach is 100% needed – there are threats against him. The Taoiseach must be kept safe but at the moment the people of Douglas are suffering because of this – they do not have local gardaí on patrol.

“Basically there are two gardaí covering Douglas at any one time. There is one of them sitting in front of the Taoiseach’s house – there is no way to run a public office let alone a response to calls.

“This is an area with the population the size of some Irish cities and it is being completely abandoned. 

“The gardaí locally have been told that Togher is covering the calls but that is not the case – the stabbing is a perfect example of that,” the source explained. 

fianna-fail-leader-micheal-martin-meeting-shoppers-during-a-general-election-canvass-at-douglas-court-shopping-centre-in-cork-ireland Alamy Stock Photo Micheál Martin canvassing recently in Douglas, Cork. Alamy Stock Photo

Councillor Marcia Dalton is the local representative for Passage West where the injured garda is based. 

She paid tribute to the garda and called for the urgent need for greater resourcing for local gardaí.

“We need more gardaí on the street – we need more garda visibility, we need them to be resourced. They cannot be going, like the local guard here, to conflict on their own,” she said.

Major issue

Shane O’Callaghan, a councillor in Cork City Council and who lives in Douglas, said that the issues faced by gardaí in the locality were something that he heard about on a regular basis.

“It’s been a major issue over the last number of years that Douglas does not have enough guards. There is a massive population in Douglas.

“It’s clear any Saturday night, in terms of a lot of antisocial behaviour that takes place in both Douglas village and the housing estates around Douglas that there’s an urgent need for increased garda resources and that’s particularly the case over the last number of years,” he said. 

O’Callaghan said that it was very important that the Taoiseach must be protected but that the people of Douglas and their policing service must be considered too.

“Obviously, the Taoiseach is the most important political leader in the country and there is a need for garda protection but if it is a case that garda protection is being taken away from Douglas Garda Station then there is responsibility on garda management, at both local and national level, to ensure that those numbers are replaced.

“Quite apart from the Taoiseach’s issues and the anti social behaviour problems, they downgraded the garda station in Douglas a couple of years ago.

“That would have been open to the public on a regular basis previously and they downgraded the hours a couple of years ago. And now it seems to be no one seems to know when it’s even open for the public,” he added. 

The area of Douglas is not alone in having problems of garda resourcing.

The town of Carrigaline, also within the catchment of Togher Garda District, has recently campaigned for great garda cover after a series of violent incidents. The town has recently received two extra gardaí.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach refused to comment on security matters. 

On Saturday night a garda spokesperson responded with a statement following our earlier request for a statement regarding the provision of garda resources to protecting the Taoiseach and around Douglas policing cover in general.

In a statement a spokesperson said that while a “local resource” may not be available to respond to a call the organisation had a regional system in place to handle 999 incidents.  

“An Garda Síochána does not comment on security arrangements for any individual.

“Local Garda Management monitors the allocation of all available resources in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources across any particular Division, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

“Local Garda Management is satisfied that an adequate policing service continues to be delivered and that current structures in place meet the requirement to deliver an effective and efficient policing service to the community.

“In emergency situations such as crime in progress, or urgent Garda assistance is required, Members of the public should always contact 999/ 112. 

“An Garda Síochána operates a Regional Control Room strategy which ensures that Garda resources are available to respond to calls for service from the public, including situations where a local resource is not immediately available,” he said.