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Gardaí investigating how pro-life campaign billboard van was allowed to park on Garda property

The parking of the ‘No’ mobile billboard vehicle caused some concern.

This photograph was taken of the van in situ in the car park of the Garda station
This photograph was taken of the van in situ in the car park of the Garda station
Image: TheJournal.ie

GARDA MANAGEMENT HAS initiated an internal investigation into how a pro-life campaign van was allowed to park at a Garda station in the west of Ireland.

A Save the 8th mobile billboard van was kept at the car park of the Carrick-on-Shannon Garda station in Co Leitrim on 24 April last. TheJournal.ie understands that express permission was given by a member of An Garda Siochána for the van to use Garda property.

However, it is understood that other members of the force took issue with a referendum campaign vehicle being allowed to use the Garda car park. Photographs were taken of the van in situ and distributed in a Whatsapp messaging group.

Some officers complained when they saw the vehicle parked up, saying that they felt that if a member of the public had managed to spot the van there that it risked looking like the force had been politicised in the referendum. The van had been parked at the back of the station, away from the public road.

There had been a number of instances of vandalism in the area relating to the referendum. Sources told TheJournal.ie that some officers were concerned that public trust in the gardai’s ability to police such incidences with impartiality could be eroded should it be thought that they favoured one side of the debate.

The vehicle was part of a roadshow travelling the country. Social media posts show this vehicle as well as a number of other Save the 8th buses and cars in Carrick on Shannon at the time.

However, it is understood that the complaint was met with an order from an officer that all officers on duty that day furnish a report to reveal who took the photograph.

Sources have told TheJournal.ie that morale has been affected by the incident and the subsequent fallout for officers who complained about the van.

An Garda Síochána has told TheJournal.ie that it is now launching a probe into the entire incident, from the point of how the vehicle came to be parked at the station.

In a statement, gardaí said: “An Garda Síochána is an apolitical organisation and all members are aware of this. Internal enquiries are ongoing in relation to this matter.”

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