on yer bike | 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to get garda pedalling protection as he cycles around town

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan does not use a ministerial car. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Senan MolonyIndependent.ie

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is to get a pedalling protection officer at times when he is cycling around Dublin on ministerial duties.

Mr Ryan confirmed the move to theIrish Independent. His protection officer will be on a bike because Mr Ryan does not use a ministerial car, unlike other members of Cabinet.

However, his protection detail will occasionally be in a garda car, depending on operational requirements.

It is understood that expressions of interest to fill the role have been sought in recent days from garda members.

Pedalling personal protection is not unknown in some countries on the Continent.

“There was a decision made by An Garda Síochána that we all now (as ministers in Cabinet) will have protection officers,” Mr Ryan said.

“That’s their call in terms of security. I suppose they will have to be flexible in my case because I will still be cycling. But that’s something I have to work on with An Garda Síochána, to make sure it works for them as well as for me.”

Mr Ryan had a meeting on the matter with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

“I have had a very good record in the past in having worked with the gardaí, and I always found them really supportive,” Mr Ryan said.

His understanding was that there would not necessarily always be cycling officers when he was cycling, and occasionally a garda car would be deployed.

“Not necessarily (will it be a bike). It will depend on the circumstances,” said the minister.

However, on those occasions when he is cycling around Dublin city, there will occasionally be a pedal officer.

Mr Ryan is a familiar sight in Dublin city as he wheels through traffic to various engagements, always wearing his helmet. But he has been typically unaccompanied up to now.

The Green Party leader said that while there is a Garda cycling unit, once also a regular sight in the city, “I haven’t seen as many of them as I used to. But yes, I’ll be working with the guards to make sure it (biking bodyguard support) works for them in whatever way, as well as for me.”

It is understood there have already been expressions of interest in the Garda Protection Unit in response to the planned moves.

The Garda Press Office said: “Matters of security including those that pertain to the safety, security and welfare of members of Government remain under continuous review. Following an assessment in autumn 2022, the Garda Commissioner approved the allocation of garda protection to government ministers. An Garda Síochána does not comment on the security of any individual or group.”

Separately, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan has raised the issue of the number of people who applied to join An Garda Síochána in response to a recruitment campaign last year, but who failed to pass the fitness test.

“The rate of fitness test failures is affecting the drive to boost falling garda numbers,” he said.

He said that as of early December, 55 candidates out of 315 had failed the Physical Competency Test (PCT).

A new recruitment campaign will be launched early this year.

Mr O’Callaghan said: “I am concerned that the fitness test is too demanding, out of step with other jurisdictions and is becoming a growing factor blocking recruitment.

“I believe that the time limits we are placing on trainees to complete the PCT is contributing to the failure of meeting recruitment targets, and this should be reviewed as a matter of urgency.”

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