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Eamonn Farrell/
gra conference

Gardaí say drink driving cases 'struck out' due to lack of clarity over use of handcuffs

Gardaí are calling on the Commissioner to provide clear protocols on the detention of drink drivers.

RANK-AND-FILE gardaí are calling for the Commissioner to provide clarity around the use of handcuffs to detain suspected drink drivers after the collapse of a number of court cases. 

John Joe O’Connell, who represents Garda Representative Association (GRA) members in the Kildare division, said gardaí in these situations may be dealing with a person who is intoxicated or “quite agitated” and there are safety issues, both for the person who is arrested and the gardaí involved.

“With each individual arrest a member of An Garda Síochána makes, they have to be assessed  – do they fit the criteria to have handcuffs placed on them? We’re just looking for protocols and instruction from the Commissioner and clarity on that,” he said.

“The use of handcuffs is a use of force and everything has to be proportionate, but there have been cases around the country whereby drink driving matters have been struck out of the courts over issues which surround the detention of people and the use of handcuffs on them or not.”

O’Connell was speaking ahead of the GRA’s annual delegate conference which starts this morning in Killarney, Co Kerry. One of the motions on the conference’s agenda calls for the association to demand clear protocols from management on this issue.

“This motion is looking for clarity and direction and instruction from the Commissioner on this simple matter. It’s very disappointing that cases of a serious nature – drink driving – would be struck out in relation to the use of handcuffs so we’re looking for clarity from the Commissioner on that.”

The GRA represents 11,500 rank-and-file members of An Garda Síochána. Association President Jim Mulligan yesterday told reporters that the conference will be calling on garda management to extend armed support across the country.

He said the GRA is not “calling for the arming of the Irish police force”, but is asking that consistent back-up be available from trained specialist units.

“The ASU [Armed Support Units] do a very fine job, they are very highly skilled, but we don’t believe there are enough of them.”

He also said he is concerned that unarmed gardaí would have to confront dangerous gangs responsible for the recent ATM robberies at night with no immediate armed support.