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'We had to wrap stab vests around three kids to protect them from gunfire'

A Cork garda recounted an armed incident in which he believes lives were put at risk because of a lack of equipment.

A CORK GARDA has revealed details of an incident he attended in which he believes the lack of equipment he and his colleagues had put their lives and the lives of a young family in serious danger.

Edmond O’Donoghue was speaking earlier, on the final day of the Garda Representative Association annual delegate conference in Tullow, in favour of a motion calling for the reinstatement of the Uzi submachine gun and for ballistics shields to be given to all gardaí at armed calls.

“Today, card holders get a Sig Sauer and a ballistic vest but no Uzi, no tactical training and management expect us to confront armed criminals who have updated their own arsenal, to an array of high powered automatic weapons,” he told the garda delegates today.

“Members of the Special Detective Unit who carry out armed patrols in the Dublin Metropolitan Region after 2am have ballistic shields and Uzis available to them but the rest of the country do not.”

O’Donoghue recounted one incident which he said brought home the importance of all members having access to ballistic shields.

Members of regular units were called to a domestic incident and last minute, with new information, were informed it was an armed incident.

The regional support unit in Cork was not rostered to work so local armed units were deployed to help officers already at the scene.

“On arrival at the inner cordon we were fired at three times in rapid succession. The suspect then walked up the road towards us carrying a loaded firearm.

There was a young family living at the edge of the inner cordon and we were unable to retreat from the position we held. Because we had no ballistic shields we had to take cover behind walls, cars or whatever we could find. After the suspect retreated he fired a further two shots at gardaí.

“Because of the shortage of armed personnel at the scene and the escape routes that needed to be covered, Garda John O’Neill of Bandon Garda station who was unarmed, volunteered to assist in the evacuation of the family.”

The Cork garda told delegates they had to wrap the three children from the house, who were all under the age of seven, in stab vests because they had no ballistic shields to provide cover for them while moving them to a waiting patrol car.

No one was harmed in the incident but he said “it could have ended very differently” because of the lack of equipment available to frontline gardaí.

Delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion to re-instate the Uzi and introduce ballistic shields for all members who attend armed incidents.

More from the conference:

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