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firearms discharged Gardai shot two members of the public last year

In total, gardaí opted to use force options made up of firearms, pepper spray and taser 958 times last year.

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Minister for Justice & Equality Helen McEntee

Minister for Justice & Equality Helen McEntee

Minister for Justice & Equality Helen McEntee

Two members of the public sustained injuries with one suffering fatal injuries when shot by members of the gardaí last year.

That is according to new figures provided by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.

In information provided to co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy TD on foot of a written Dail question, Minister McEntee said last year gardaí discharged firearms on 17 occasions.

This was more than a five fold increase on 2019 when firearms were discharged three times.

Minister McEntee said the discharge of firearms included the 40mm launcher used by the armed support units, which is a non-lethal weapon.

Currently, the Garda Ombudsman is carrying out an investigation into the shooting of George Nkencho, on December, 30, at Manorfields Drive, Hartstown, west Dublin.

In her letter to Ms Murphy, Ms McEntee said the number of times a taser was deployed by officers last year was 34 - an increase of six on the 2019 total of 28.

However, the use of pepper spray by Gardai reduced by 6pc to 907 last year.

In total, gardaí opted to use force options made up of firearms, pepper spray and taser 958 times last year.

The minister revealed the Garda Dublin Metropolitan South Central division last year was the area where officers deployed force options the highest number of times.

Ms McEntee said the use of force options in the division made up 14pc of the 958 times force was used.

This second highest division in terms of force options deployed was Cork, accounting for 8pc of the total.

The figures show Dublin South Metropolitan Garda Division was ranked third where the use of force options accounted for 7pc of the total with the Dublin Metropolitan North Central accounting for 6pc of the total.

Donegal is the division ranked at number five in terms of the force levels accounting for 5pc of the overall total.

In total, force levels at six separate Garda divisions in Dublin accounted for 39pc of the overall total last year.

Garda divisions at Limerick, Galway and Tipperary each accounted for 4pc of the overall total.

Dublin Metropolitan East Division, along with Cavan/Monaghan, Laois/Offaly, Kildare, Kerry each accounted for 3pc of force levels.

Sligo/Leitrim, Wexford, Meath, and Westmeath each accounted for 2pc while Clare, Mayo and Longford/Roscommon each accounted for 1pc.

Speaking last month on the issue of Garda force, President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Frank Thornton said:“The GRA is proud of Ireland’s policing-by-consent model and would not want that to change, but crime in Ireland is becoming ever more violent, so there needs to be a commensurate policing response.”

He said figures from last year show well over 200 Gardai were maliciously injured on duty.

Mr Thornton said: “We have been shot at, rammed, dragged along roads buy cars, assaulted with a variety of actual and improvised weapons and punched, kicked, bitten and spat at. “Our members have suffered internal injuries, broken bones, cuts needing multiple stitches and more.

"Some of these were life-threatening incidents that can lead to life-changing injuries.” He added: “This shows the dangers our members face daily. As critical frontline workers, gardaí are as entitled to protective equipment as much as anyone else and the GRA regards non-lethal weapons and body cameras as safety equipment that should be available to every frontline garda for their own safety but also for public safety.”

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