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Experts required Garda negotiators involved in at least 89 barricades and stand-offs in 2020

Last year they were called 98 times and of this year’s cases, 41 were directly linked to mental health issues, often involving people threatening to take their own lives.

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Gardaí (Stock image/PA)

Gardaí (Stock image/PA)

Gardaí (Stock image/PA)

Specialist Garda negotiators were involved in at least 89 barricades and similar stand-offs this year with about half of those directly related to mental health issues.

The National Negotiation Unit has a panel of trained gardai across the country who try to begin a dialogue with the people involved in the stand-off and bring it to a safe conclusion.

Last year they were called 98 times and of this year’s cases, 41 were directly linked to mental health issues, often involving people threatening to take their own lives.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that many of the other 41, described as 'criminal', would have had an underlying mental health issue that would have acted as a contributory factor.

Patricia Casey, a consultant psychiatrist in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, says the Garda negotiators try to bring stand-offs to safe conclusions.

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Garda (Stock image)

Garda (Stock image)

Garda (Stock image)

She explained: "Firstly, the attempt is made to diffuse the situation and to persuade the individual to come to hospital to be seen... or if they're barricading themselves, that the person would come out... and agree to go to seek help.

"Of course, if they don't do that, the guards may have to get through the barricade and break in."

Some other incidents this year involve kidnap or hostage attempts, a possible child abduction, and an incident involving a high-risk missing person.

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