dangerous work | 

Shocking new figures reveal how 2,267 gardai have been assaulted on active duty

‘These are servants of the people carrying out very dangerous work and we need to make sure that they can do that work without fear of being assaulted.’

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Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

There have been renewed calls for people who assault gardaí to be sent to prison, after shocking new figures revealed that 2,267 members of the force have been assaulted on active duty since 2013.

In 2020, there were 205 reported assaults, 241 the following year, while there have been 196 so far this year.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín says people who assault gardaí must be sent to prison.

“We in Aontú have created a new bill that would guarantee a custodial sentence - a minimum custodial sentence - for anybody who assaults a Garda, an ambulance worker or a fire service worker,” he told Newstalk.

“These are servants of the people carrying out very dangerous work and we need to make sure that they can do that work without fear of being assaulted.”

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that any assault on a Garda was an assault on an entire community.

The Government said that anyone convicted of assaulting a Garda can be jailed for up to seven years, under current laws.

Last month, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) revealed there has been a 57pc increase in assaults against its members over the past five years - soaring from just over 700 assaults in 2016 to 1,096 attacks in 2021.

The GRA said it was clear the justice system needed to adopt a get-tough approach to those who endanger members of the emergency services simply trying to do their jobs.

GRA official Frank Thornton said mandatory sentences for such offenders was long overdue.

"Mandatory sentencing is long overdue to act as a real deterrent for those who initiate these assaults on all frontline emergency staff such as gardai, hospital, paramedic and our firefighting colleagues," he said.

"The statistics as revealed by the Department of Justice from the past five years reveal a telling insight to the reality of life on the frontline."

Mr Thornton said it was very worrying to see such an increase in assaults against Gardaí since 2016 - and warned the courts had to reflect how unacceptable it was for emergency service members to be targetted.

"There is no excuse for unprovoked assaults, as members of An Garda Síochána we are entitled to expect that we will return to our families after each day on duty in the same condition we left our families and homes in."

Almost half the injuries suffered by on-duty Gardaí are the direct results of assaults against them - almost 1500pc the rate of injury suffered by other professionals in the course of their duties.

"I believe if, as a society, we want to retain an unarmed police force then we must protect members of An Garda Síochána through mandatory sentencing on all assaults on gardaí - and court penalties which adequately acknowledge this."

Representative groups for firemen, paramedics and medical professionals have also expressed concern at the increasing number of violent attacks they are subjected to in the course of their duties.

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