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gra conference

1,000 gardaí are assaulted each year

Members of the GRA’s executive council said there is a need for a new system to address this, as well as legislation with harsher penalties for anyone who attacks a member of the force.

AS MANY AS 1,000 gardaí are assaulted each year.

Deputy General Secretary of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) John Healy revealed this figure ahead of the association’s annual delegate conference which kicks off tomorrow.

As a press conference this evening at the Malton Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry, where the conference will take place, Healy said a new reporting system has been introduced since last October.

This system records all assaults and injuries on duty. “Whereas we don’t have a full year as yet to reflect it, the numbers month-on-month as shown are actually twice than what had been recorded here before,” he told reporters. “It would appear to show that between 950 and 1,000 guards are assaulted per annum. We’ll know that further once we get past October.” Presently there are 10,500 rank and file gardaí.

Outgoing president of the association John Parker said there are large numbers of incidents where members are assaulted that are not recorded.

“Other police forces would catagorise on their police system the various interactions through a use of force, a tick box, but if a garda had used pepper spray on someone, that would be recorded, or if a garda had to warn somebody off that would be a low level use of force,” he explained. “Similarly when a guard is threatened or spat at that would be considered an assault; where a guards family have been threatened that would be considered assault.”

He said there is a focus on the high profile situations such as the recent incident where a motorcyclist “got rammed and tossed like a ragdoll into the air”.

Standing outside a nightclub and there’s 400 people coming out and you’re the guard, not one of the guards, the guard minding that corner.

However, Parker said the GRA is not calling for the force to be further armed, stressing that resourcing was the key to dealing with crimes like public order offences as well as adequate protective equipment.

The GRA will put forward a motion at the conference tomorrow calling for figures on garda assaults to be published by the department each year. The association also wants the department to make information on how these incidents were dealt with available annually.

Dermot O’Brien, who will take over as President of the GRA in two days when Parker steps down, also said there is a need for specific legislation in place to protect members as this would be a “good deterrent” rather than manning gardaí with weapons like tazers or guns.

“There has to be something in place that when a member of public knows that if they take on a member of An Garda Síochána, there is extra penalties there, i’m not going to say exactly, that’s up to legislators,” he said.

We’ll be bringing you the latest news from the conference in Killarney over the next couple of days so keep your eyes peeled. You can also follow @michellehtweet for updates throughout the day. 

Related: Here’s what they’ll be talking about at the GRA conference>

More: Garda morale rocked by politicians taking advantage of controversies>

Read: Garda bodies launch High Court challenge to sick pay changes>

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