The chairman of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) is contacting Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan urging her to provide detectives in Cork with proper firearms training and bullet-proof shields to defuse a row which could lead to the withdrawal in the region of round-the-clock armed cover.
As revealed by the Irish Examiner, more than 80 detectives in the Cork City Garda Division have informed Garda management that as of July 1 they will not provide 24/7 armed cover because in their view continuing to do so breeches the working time directive and health and safety legislation.
The issue was raised at a county council meeting by Cllr Frank O’Flynn, who is chairman of the Cork County (JPC).
He said he was seriously concerned about the threat to withdraw cover by the detectives, who are members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA). They say all they want is the same training and equipment as members of the Special Detective Unit in Dublin.
Cllr O’Flynn said he agreed, especially as there were now more illegal firearms on the streets than ever and because of the rise in international terrorism.
Detectives from Cork City have provided cover for serious incidents in other parts of the county and also in Tipperary and Kerry.
“We want the best equipment and training given to our local gardaí as they get in Dublin. I don’t see why there’s any difference,” Cllr O’Flynn told a meeting of the council’s Northern Division.
He received immediate support from colleagues.
Cllr Tim Collins, vice chairman of the JPC, agreed that a communique be sent immediately to the commissioner and added that it should also be raised with local Garda management at the forthcoming Cork County JPC meeting.
“If 24/7 armed cover is withdrawn it will be a major issue,” Cllr Collins said.
The GRA call for additional firearms training and the provision of bullet-proof shields in Cork came was made two years ago following an incident in the Minane Bridge area.
Uniformed Garda John O’Neill, who is based in Bandon, risked his life to save three children by taking off his bullet-proof jacket and using it to shield them from a man who was shooting at him and his colleagues.
He managed to whisk the three children, all aged under seven, to safety.
The GRA believe if they had bullet-proof shields, which offer full body protection, there would be significantly less risk to their members and the public.
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