Safety fears  | 

Brave garda assaulted and doused in petrol 'may never heal' from trauma

“He’s an exceptional, courageous member of An Garda Siochana and I for one, am proud to have him as a colleague in the Cavan Monaghan division.”

The incident, which took place in February, is the third time Garda Pádraig Scott has been attacked while on duty

Alan Sherry

Gardaí have called for better resourcing in areas including armed response and cybercrime at the Garda Representative Association annual conference which got underway in Mayo today.

Cops from around the country have gathered in Westport for the annual conference were resources to protect the public and officers were high on the agenda.

Gardaí in the Garda Monaghan Division have called on the Garda Commissioner to address deficits in resources for frontline units.

In February Garda Padraig Scott was subjected to a vicious assault and doused in petrol in a disturbing incident while he was on patrol in Blacklion, Co Cavan.

The Cavan Monaghan Division put forward an urgent motion to conference that: “In light of the recent vicious assault on our uniformed colleague in Blacklion, that conference calls on the Garda Commissioner to immediately address the current deficits in resources on frontline units which is exposing our members to violent attacks due to such deficits.”

Garda James Morrisroe who is based in Cootehill, Co Cavan, told how Gda Scott was the victim of a vicious assault while on duty alone on February 28.

“He is still recovering at home from the injuries sustained in this attack while the physical injuries may heal over time the psychological injuries may never heal for this member.

"This is the third time this member was the victim of an unprovoked assault and the second time while on duty alone and isolated during his short service of six to seven years. This member puts the safety of the public before his own safety.”

PHOTO SHOWS: (L-R) Ronan Slevin, Interim Deputy General Secretary, Frank Thornton, GRA President, Brendan OConnor, GRA Vice President and Philip McAnenly, Interim General Secretary at the press conference ahead of the 44th annual GRA Delegates Conference, being held in Westport, Co. Mayo. PIC: Conor Ó Mearáin

Garda Morrisroe said the garda organisation should be extremely grateful to have such a selfless member amongst its ranks.

“He’s an exceptional, courageous member of An Garda Siochana and I for one am proud to have him as a colleague in the Cavan Monaghan division.”

He said the attack highlights the dangers gardaí face and said there had been an increase in serious attacks on gardaí in recent years.

“Gardaí working alone particularly in isolated situations need to see their safety is a priority for their employer and this has to be demonstrated by having adequate numbers on duty who have adequate driver training and technology such as body cams and in-car cameras which are standard kit in most police forces.”

Officers from the Sligo/Leitrim Division called on the Garda Commissioner to carry out a review of armed support capability for each operational Garda District and Division to include response times, comparisons of response times against international norms and whether tasers should be available to frontline members.

GRA members from the division which has no armed response unit said that armed back-up was called 49 times in the first four months of 2022 and in 10 of those incidents unarmed gardaí had to wait between one and two hours before armed back up arrived.

Unarmed gardaí also had to wait over an hour for armed response in 56 out of 146 calls last year and more than two hours in eight of those incidents.

Sligo-based Garda Ray Wimms told the conference that gardaí cannot wait that long before helping a person who is in danger.

He added that in several violent incidents unarmed gardaí de-escalated the situation before armed back-up arrived but that is not acceptable.

Gardaí from the Dublin South Central Division called for greater resources to target cybercrime including child sexual exploitation.

“Conference calls on Garda Management to ensure that the organisation is fully equipped in terms of financing, resourcing and training to target all forms of online crime including an online child exploitation unit in each Garda Division,” they said.

Gardaí told the conference that they don’t have the resources or personnel to properly investigate and tackle offenders and said there is currently a three-year backlog of digital devices waiting to be examined.

As well as child sexual exploitation there has been a significant rise in other cyber-crime in recent years ranging from fraud offences and harassment to the hacking of the HSE data last year.

Gardaí at the conference said morale was low in the force and they felt they weren’t properly resourced to properly serve the public.

They have also called for better pay and conditions, better training and more gardaí.

Donegal Garda Brendan O’Connor has been elected as new president of the GRA taking over from Frank Thornton who has been elected as the new treasurer of the association.

Gda O’Connor said: "We will stick together, take on our challenges and move forward in unity."

Garda College GRA representative Mark O'Meara was elected as the new vice president of the association.

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