Rise in attacks | 

Mandatory six months' jail for attacks on garda or paramedics in new proposed law

The move was sparked by an increase in attacks on gardaí and HSE staff in recent years
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond will bring legislation before the Dáil in the new year. Photo: Frank McGrath

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond will bring legislation before the Dáil in the new year. Photo: Frank McGrath

Philip Ryan

A mandatory six-month prison sentence will be handed down to anyone who attacks a garda, paramedic or firefighter under new legislation being proposed by a government TD.

Fine Gael’s Neale Richmond will bring legislation before the Dáil in the new year. It will impose strict new sentencing laws for anyone found guilty of attacking frontline workers while they are carrying out their duties.

The move was sparked by an increase in attacks on gardaí and HSE staff in recent years.

There has been a number of high-profile assaults on frontline workers, with Halloween being an especially dangerous time for gardaí and health service staff.

The legislation will impose a mandatory six-month sentence for anyone found guilty of assault on a frontline worker and two years for a more a serious offence.

Mr Richmond said there has been a “worrying” increase in assaults across Ireland.

“An attack on a garda or a paramedic as they simply go out doing their job is an attack on all of us. People, rightly, want to see such attacks met with appropriate punishments, not just suspended sentences, fines or warnings,” Mr Richmond said.

“In 2021 we saw a firework shot into the face of a garda, we saw firefighters attacked with stones as they put out a bonfire and we saw paramedics assaulted as they tended to an injured person.

“This behaviour is simply not acceptable, and people rightly want to see justice in these cases.”

Mr Richmond said there has been a 57pc rise in assaults causing injury to gardaí this year, with 608 attacks taking place in the first nine months alone.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said that over the past five years there have been more than 4,200 attacks on officers while on duty.

There were 8,867 assaults on HSE staff last year, with nearly half (48pc) being attacks on nurses.

“These workers put themselves at risk every day to protect us, they do not deserve to receive harassment in return, and we must do more to prevent them,” Mr Richmond said.

“To prevent a further rise in these cases, action must be taken and an example made of those who commit these crimes.

“This is why in the new year I will introduce legislation in the Dáil ensuring there is a mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of assault against a peace officer of six months for a lesser, or summary offence, and two years for an indictment, or more serious offence.”

The Dublin Rathdown TD said building safer communities is one of the central priorities of Justice Minister Helen McEntee, and this includes keeping frontline workers safe.

“As it stands, the murder of a garda is rightly deemed a capital offence and comes with a mandatory sentence of 40 years. The same principle should apply for an assault,” he said.

“Ensuring that those who assault these frontline workers are brought to justice will serve both to dissuade others from taking this course of action and also to reaffirm our commitment to protecting those who sacrifice so much to keep us safe. This is the least our frontline heroes deserve.”


Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices