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cold comfort

'We are just a little cold': Gardaí say new uniform is leaving them cool under the collar

The gardaí will spend €20 million over a five year programme.

THE NEW GARDA uniform is comfortable and easier to wear than the last offering – but gardaí have one problem with it: they are left frozen because it isn’t warm enough for Irish weather. 

Patricia Gill, an Inspector working Dublin, said that while operational gardaí are happy to get a new uniform it is not up to scratch to deal in terms of being appropriate for Ireland’s climate. 

The gardaí will spend €20 million over a five year programme.

Gill raised the issue at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) conference in Westport, Co Mayo.

There are two issues she said – the poor insulation out on the beat and the fact that it is too warm to wear the fleece-style jacket indoors. 

“The issues we have in terms of the uniform is not its appearance, it’s really the quality of the uniform, in particular the feedback from the members is its thermal value.

“We are not giving out about the appearance of it – when we get to a scene it is really important that the uniform is visible, that we can command attention, that we can command respect.

“I think it would only be respectful for those of us that are out in the middle of the night at scenes that nobody really wants to go to be a little bit warmer than we were already.

“It just doesn’t have the thermal value. It is much more functional and certainly more casual, easier to wear, but it just doesn’t have the heat retention,” she said. 

Gill explained that it was only the third time gardaí have got a new uniform since the foundation of the State in the 1920s. 

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“When it was launched in 2022 we welcomed it, we applauded it, as a woman with nearly 30 years (service) and as an operational inspector in An Garda Siochana, I can tell you I certainly did, because we have been struggling with uniform for years and looking for a new uniform,” she added. 

As it has been tested by gardaí working at crime scenes and on the beat in the changeable conditions, it has come up short.

The specific problems are associated with the type of material used in the t-shirts and the soft-shell jackets. 

“A little bit of tweaking, just like we do with equipment, just like we do with cars, just like we evolve with society. I just think there needs to be more evolution of the uniform over a three-year period that we don’t have to wait another 33 years.

“I don’t think they got all of it wrong. I think it had to be put to the test. Like I said, we are in 2024 now, the uniform was introduced in 2022 and it has a lot of plusses, but the feedback that is coming from the ground and I am an operation inspector that is on the ground at 2 or 3am in the cold in October or November and that’s where the issues are,” the Inspector said. 

Gill said that the issues with the uniform have not affected members’ pride in wearing it.

“We are just a little bit cold sometimes, that’s all,” she added.

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