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Minister to tell rank-and-file gardaí she will strengthen their mental health supports

Helen McEntee will address the annual delegate conference of the Garda Representative Association today.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE MINSTER FOR Justice will today tell rank-and-file gardaí that she is committed to supporting the expansion of their mental health supports.

Minister Helen McEntee will later address the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association (GRA). She will tell delegates that she will work with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to identify how to fund expanded services in the coming years.

This will include additional training in mental health, self-care and support as well as extra mental health support contact sessions for gardaí.

The minister will tell the conference that plans will also include the widening of mandatory psychological support within An Garda Síochána.

McEntee, in her address, will tell delegates that their role is “absolutely crucial in protecting our communities”. She will acknowledged that they deal with traumatic incidents in the course of their duties and that it is vitally supported that the necessary supports are available to them.

She will also stress to the GRA members the importance of destigmatising mental health issues and encourage all garda personnel to seek help when they need it.

The theme of this year’s GRA conference, which has been limited to a smaller number of attendees due to Covid-19 cases, is “Communities Matter… So Do We”.

Yesterday GRA President Frank Thornton called on the minister to work with the association to reduce a 50% increase in assaults on gardaí. 

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“One of the many challenges that we have faced over the past year has been the sharp rise in assaults on our membership,” he said.

“Assaults on gardaí in the five-year period to 2020 rose by over 50%, with almost half being as a direct result of such injuries being suffered by gardaí on duty.”

Thornton said he will outline to the minister and her department how they can “work with us to change perceptions and deliver tangible deterrents to address this ongoing affront to our members”.

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