'Disgraceful' | 

Public Order Unit ready to intervene in Cherry Orchard after garda car rammed in Dublin

Drew Harris added that the Public Order Unit had been “stood up” and was ready to deal with escalating antisocial behaviour in the Cherry Orchard area in recent weeks, with plans to deal with trouble expected around the Halloween period brought forward.

Stolen car crashes into Garda vehicle in Cherry Orchard

Paul Hyland and Ciara O'LoughlinIndependent.ie

An incident in which two gardaí in a patrol car were rammed by another vehicle in Cherry Orchard in Dublin has been described as “disgraceful” and “concerning” by the Garda commissioner.

Drew Harris added that the Public Order Unit had been “stood up” and was ready to deal with escalating antisocial behaviour in the Cherry Orchard area in recent weeks, with plans to deal with trouble expected around the Halloween period brought forward.

“The public order unit has been stood up. It had been stood up over the weekend, but that's going to be stood up now and available,” Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris said the two officers in the patrol car, were uninjured.

Video shared online shows joyriders racing up and down a road in Cherry Orchard, before a patrol car arrives and is rammed.

“It’s disgraceful and it’s a very concerning incident and I’m glad to report that the two garda members in the vehicle were uninjured,” the commissioner said at the National Ploughing Championships in Co Laois today.

“And they were able to summon some assistance which quickly arrived to restore order in the Cherrywood area.”

Mr Harris said there has been “vigorous” police operations in place in the area, and did not accept that the gardaí involved had inadequate resources.

“That first car was the initial response but in the end we had 11 mobiles deployed and that restored order to the whole area,” he said.

“I would say there has been vigorous police operations in that area over the last number of weeks and we have seized vehicles, arrests have been made and people have been brought before the courts in terms of driving offences and other antisocial behaviour offences and also then offences related to drug dealing.”

Mr Harris added: “There has been a lot of enforcement work and there is a full investigation under way now but we also have to look at tonight and the following nights too.

“What we have done is bring forward our operation and response to regrettably the rise in antisocial behaviour in and around the Halloween period, so that is commencing.

“We want to assure everyone in Ireland, but in particular in the local area, that we are there, call upon us and report incidents to us and provide information to us.”

His comments came as Garda representatives described the scenes as “disgraceful” and said the two gardaí involved were traumatised.

The head of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has said that there is an “inherent danger” posed to member of the force when there is “open encouragement” of people to ram patrol cars.

She was speaking after a garda car was rammed last night as officers responded to an incident of dangerous driving in the Cherry Orchard area of Ballyfermot in Dublin.

The incident happened shortly after 7.30pm when gardaí were alerted to several cars driving dangerously in the Cherry Orchard area.

Footage shared on social media shows onlookers cheering and some encouraging the drivers to "ram” the approaching garda car.

Describing the scenes, ASGI President Antoinette Cunningham said the incident should be “condemned” across the board.

“Large groups of youths, cheering on others driving a stolen car and encouragement to ram gardaí in the area. Members going about their lawful duty and subjected to that sort of behaviour; it should be condemned by all politicians and community leaders in the area. It’s very, very disturbing to see it,” she said.

Ms Cunningham said similar incidents happen on occasion, but argued that social media played a “huge” role last night and the “worry” is that it “encourages copycat type incidents”.

She said young people and onlookers “feel empowered by these videos and it encourages more of the same type of behaviour”.

A still from video of the incident in Cherry Orchard in which a Garda car was rammed

“It’s not only about condemning what happened last night, it’s also about finding a solution to these issues, to ensure that we try very hard that there’s no reoccurrence of them,” she told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

“Because they are completely unacceptable. They’re unacceptable for society and they’re unacceptable for the gardaí in the area.”

Ms Cunningham said there are “ordinary decent people” in communities across the country who are trying to “live their lives” and that is why community leaders and gardaí “will have to come together to try and find a solution to this”.

She added: “It’s easy to condemn it but the difficult work is trying to find ways to ensure that this type of behaviour doesn’t continue.

“Long term solutions are need for this. There is an inherent danger when you see open encouragement of people to ram patrol cars. Then you wonder, where the respect for the rule of law lies, where the gardaí have their rightful position in society to take on behaviour like this and be able to answer it and address it sufficiently and to be adequately resourced to do so when something like this happens.

“They’re the things that we’re going to have to look at because they all centre around the safety of our members and the people who were on duty last night, to make sure that when a call like this comes in that they can respond adequately, properly, swiftly and quickly to take control of a situation.”

Footage of a garda car being rammed in West Dublin

In a statement last night, gardaí said that when officers arrived they “observed two vehicles driving erratically”.

"Both vehicles failed to stop when requested to do so by gardaí and one vehicle collided with an official garda vehicle.

"No injures were reported during the incident.”

Gardaí have appealed to members of the public who witnessed this incident to come forward and make any camera or dash cam footage available to investigating gardaí.

Reacting this morning, Garda Representative Association President Brendan O’Connor said there is a “rising tide” of people who are willing to “challenge, confront and attack” gardaí.

“We saw last night, vehicles being used as weapons to attack our members and unfortunately, we just have to look at the memorial wall and the Garda Memorial Gardens to know how many guards have actually lost their lives as a result of people using vehicles dangerously or recklessly,” he said.

“I have to commend my colleague who was driving that car and I believe that the driver hadn't actually been properly trained. So that's another issue for our members. We have to look at this holistically as a conversation but if you look at it holistically from a garda perspective, and from our members perspective, we have the perfect storm.

“We have an inadequate availability of resources to respond to what was reported. The gardaí who respond are possibly in a vehicle that's not suitable, there's an issue around driver training. So I have to commend the driver of the vehicle and the observer who were able to extract themselves from that danger and ensure that the situation didn't result in any serious injury.”

Mr O’Connor said, “those guards were traumatised and exposed to danger” and it raised “all sorts of questions” about “equipment, the training and the protocols”.

He added: “We have skeleton response crews because frontline regular units have been depleted so short (sic). So, we often have our control room staff who are put in an impossible position too, because this call is on the screen has to be dealt with and they can only send the resources that are available and a lot of the time now we see too inexperienced young gardaí, on their own, with no back up available send to establish the fact and when they go, what they are confronted with is extreme danger, extreme violence and attacks and they do not have the capacity to respond.”

The incident has been condemned by local politicians who have called for more resources to tackle the route causes of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Tweeting last night, People Before Profit Councillor Hazel De Nortúin wrote: “Images and videos are being shared regarding the incidents in Cherry Orchard tonight. There's no other way in describing it other than it's horrific and it's traumatising for residents living in that area. This has been the case for a long time now and we've all been raising this.”

Fianna Fáil Councillor Daithí Doolan said: “Terrifying scenes in Cherry Orchard tonight. I hope it serves as a wake up call. This community has been ignored for too long. Urgently needs resources and support from Government and senior gardaí.”

Meanwhile, Dublin South Green Party TD Patrick Costello said incidents like last night are the reason why local representatives have called for the Minister for Children and the Minister of State for Community Development to visit the area.

“Some local reps have been working together for more resources for the community. This was why we asked for Roderic O’Gorman and Joe O’Brien to come see the issues first hand. I will be asking once again for immediate support and resources,” he wrote.

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