Gardaí say they are in a 'no-win situation' when dealing with court-ordered repossessions

Gardaí say they are in a 'no-win situation' when dealing with court-ordered repossessions

Middle-ranking officers claim that gardaí are in a “no-win situation” in policing court-ordered repossessions.

And some members have received threats as a result, the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has heard.

Supervisors want Garda HQ to devise operating guidelines to deal with the controversial events – and train members in them.

The national executive of the AGSI backed calls from delegates in the Roscommon/Longford division on the matter.

Roscommon was at the centre of a contentious repossession last year which was filmed and circulated online.

Sgt Paul McDermott, who is from the Roscommon/Longford Division and sits on the AGSI National Executive, called on Garda management to draw up standard operating procedures to bring clarity on the roles of members.

“I'm not referring to particular incidents, but incidents are arising around the country - we have seen them in Dublin and seen them around the country in rural areas,” he said.

He said that, particularly in rural areas, members were “embedded in their community” and then asked to cover a repossession in their own community or neighbouring area where they are probably known and that this made it “more difficult”.

Sgt McDermott said: “Our role is only there to make sure a breach of the peace doesn't occur.

We are the meat in the sandwich, we are caught in the middle - it's a no-win situation for us.

He said issues that needed addressing include proper notice, planning and training.

He added: "I would have experienced members who would have received threats following these types of incidents.

There have been other incidents as well where people have been identified, not in our area, put up on social media and threats were put up.

Separately, a delegate from Limerick said gardaí who had been told at the last minute that their scheduled promotion is on hold are subject to “personal character assassination” and found guilty without committing any wrongdoing.

Sergeant Pat Brennan, with 29 years service and 11 years in the Armed Support Unit, said four sergeants and one garda were told last Friday just “half an hour before” the promotion list was published that they were not going to be on it.

The members were informed their promotion was being deferred until an active investigation by GSOC regarding them was completed.

Sgt Brennan said: “Everybody in the job would have known they were to be on that list, their families would have known that they were to be on that list, because they weren't on that list, everyone's wondering what did they do wrong.

"The stress that causes to the families, to the members, it's character assassination.”

He said there were “serious time delays” with GSOC investigations and said the watchdog should take action against “serial complainers”.

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