Gardaí call for ebola protective suits

A senior figure in the organisation which represents the country’s rank-and-file gardaí says its members on immigration control should be provided with special suits to protect them from ebola.

Garda Representative Association central executive committee member Michael Corcoran said that hundreds of the association’s members are being put at risk because they have not had protective suits issued to them.

“Our immigration officers are the first, along with customs, who get to meet people coming through airports or ports yet they have no protective gear whatsoever.”

He said that while direct flights do not come into Ireland from the countries affected by the deadly virus, there was nothing stopping people getting connecting flights to this country.

Garda Corcoran said that at the very minimum two suits should be supplied to each airport and port .

“If a person has to be detained they might try and get away and it would likely need two officers to detain them,” he said.

Nurse and ambulance personnel have access to the protective suits. He said that gardaí were issued with protective clothing when manning the border during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak in the North.

Forensic experts are also issued with special clothing when they examine crime scenes, but nothing has been done to protect members from the ebola risk.

The Cork City-based gardaí said that he had received a number of calls from immigration officers who were worried about the situation.

He said it was unfortunately a near-everyday occurrence for gardaí to be spat in the face by people.

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