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new figures More than 200 gardaí attacked while policing during the pandemic

A huge amount of gardaí have suffered violent attack by members of the public since the beginning of last year.

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Frank Thornton

Frank Thornton

Frank Thornton

More than 200 gardaí have been attacked and injured while policing during the pandemic, new figures reveal.

Despite a major curtailment in the population's movement with restrictions due to Covid-19, a huge amount of gardaí have suffered violent attack by members of the public since the beginning of last year.

A total of 199 officers were injured as a result of attacks last year, according to the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents rank and file officers.

The GRA figures do not reflect attacks on members of the force in the first three months of this year, which has also seen several violent assaults on gardaí.

A number of security sources spoken to this weekend say there has been "at least" another 25 attacks on members so far this year, which include a number of violent assaults on gardaí policing anti-lockdown protests in recent months.

Following violent scenes at anti-lockdown protest in the capital on February 27, which saw a firework allegedly fired at officers, three gardaí were injured. One required surgery for a fractured ankle while another suffered a perforated eardrum.

Less than a fortnight ago, seven officers were injured in violent attacks during St Patrick's Day policing operations in Dublin and Laois.

In Portlaoise, Co Laois, gardaí and ambulance workers came under attack and five gardaí were injured and needed hospital treatment, while in Dublin, St Patrick's night saw a female Garda member violently beaten, sustaining an elbow to the face and a number of kicks to the head. A male colleague also sustained head injuries in the same incident.

The Dublin-based officers were assaulted when they attempted to deal with a man who was urinating on the street.

The female community garda officer was admitted to hospital after the assault and underwent CAT scans after the sustained attack in Mercer Street. Gardaí arrested a 35-year-old man following the incident.

In relation to the 199 attacks last year, gardaí suffered internal injuries, broken bones, cuts needing multiple stitches and more.

Gardaí have been shot at, rammed, dragged along roads by cars, and assaulted with a variety of actual and improvised weapons, added the spokesman for the union, which represents over 11,500 members.

The attacks last year took place in both urban and rural settings. Some injuries were life-threatening and life-changing, added the spokesman.

The GRA is now calling for tougher action against those who assault officers, including more robust legislation and mandatory sentencing to deal with people who inflict injuries on members of all emergency services.

The union also wants better personal protection equipment such as body cameras and tasers.

GRA president Frank Thornton told the Sunday Independent that, despite Covid, gardaí are still suffering an abundance of vicious attacks.

"The recent violence in Dublin when gardaí were shot at with fireworks is typical of incidents involving improvised weapons used against our members," he said.

"Gardaí have also been spat at by people who could be transmitting the Covid virus."

Mr Thornton also criticised the "low prioritisation" by Government for the vaccination of gardaí.

"The number of firearms seizures in the past 12 months, and the greater willingness of criminals to openly use guns show the level of risk is rising, which means the chances of sustaining a life-threatening or life-changing injury is rising too," he said.

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