A Donegal-based Garda says his colleagues need machine guns to combat the threat from terrorists and criminals along the border.
Garda Brendan O’Connor was speaking at the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association in Wexford.
The well-known Donegal Garda said the lack of funding for border stations as officers patrol the border region and cannot even activate blue lights and sirens because they have not been trained.
Brendan said: “We don’t want to withdraw from community policing, it’s entirely appropriate that guards would be out on patrol in those rural areas along the border serving those people like anywhere else in the country.
“But we need more backup, there’s a specific need for armed backup in the border and it simply isn’t there and it ties into resources and training.
“We’ve had the farcical situation where there are detectives on patrol on the border who cannot turn on a blue light to rush to the assistance of a colleague, or cannot signal a suspect vehicle to stop.
“So An Garda Síochána is tasked with everything along the border from counter terrorism to immigration control to ordinary crime and there are people who aren’t allowed turn on a blue light.
“People wouldn’t believe you, but that is the reality.”
Brendan explained that the loss of the Uzi and a lack of appropriate weaponry has left gardai badly exposed.
He added: “Ten years ago gardaí could scramble armed units at local level, the Uzi was available at local district level.
“It wasn’t ideal, but it was a deterrent.
“We have an incident now, an incident happens on the Northern side, there’s been an incident, we need a response on this side.
“What do we have?
“A couple of detectives with a side arm for personal protection and no tactical training.
“It’s just simply not up to the threat and the danger that’s there.”
Garda O’Connor appealed to garda management to put more resourcing in to armed cover for unarmed officers with more Elite Armed Support gardai but also give officers
He explained: “We would like to see more armed support units and we would like to see them perhaps deployed on a divisional basis.
“The model is fantastic and its great to see properly training firearms officers.
“That’s what we need, we don’t need guards.
“But at the end of the day you need a contingency solution.
“In the old system, it wasn’t perfect, but you could deploy someone with long-armed weapons at short notice until when the immediate danger was there until the proper units were scrambled.
“That capability has been taken away despite the threat being greater.
“Cross border criminals have access to arms and aren’t afraid to use them.
“Our members are extremely vulnerable on the border without proper backup.”
Garda O’Connor said the interim solution is to provide gardai with heavier weaponry in each station.
He explained: “The old model of the uzi It wasn’t perfect but it made perfect sense. We’ve an armed incident, we’ve tactically trained people on the way.
“They’re 45 minutes, a hour away.
“We can’t have an armed unit on every corner.
“But here we go, two gardaí locally can reach for their MP7 and be there on the ground to provide cover and protection for their colleagues.
“That’s all we’re asking for.
“We’ve a right to life just like everyone else.”Tags: