DIABETICS are being unfairly excluded from driving Garda patrol cars and carrying firearms, according to the Garda Representative Association which wants the ban lifted.
Terry Leonard, a member of the GRA’s secretariat, has described the exclusion policy as “unfair, unnecessary and excessive”, in view of medical advances which allow diabetics to live normal lives.
Garda Leonard said there could be up to 1,200 gardaí with diabetes, but they won’t disclose it because of the fear they will be taken off certain duties. He claimed two potential recruits were turned down last year because they had the condition.
“There have been Olympic winners with diabetes. The policy we have flies in the face of medical advances,” said Garda Leonard.
The GRA has lodged a case with the Garda Equality Officer in an effort to get the exclusions removed. The Diabetic Foundation of Ireland has also stated it feels Garda policy is discriminatory.
The Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and his chief medical officer have said they will address this issue.
More than 150 GRA delegates attending the association’s annual conference in Killarney heard fears that training will be severely cut at the Garda Training College in Templemore due to Government cutbacks.
Garda Donal Flannery said 16 civilian staff had been let go and others on contracts were concerned they wouldn’t be renewed.
He said 19 gardaí had been transferred to duties in other areas and some training instructors who had retired hadn’t been replaced.
An embargo has been introduced on recruitment and the last batch of 100 student gardaí will enter training at the college in a fortnight’s time.
Garda Flannery said 220 acres of land purchased for training enhancement by former minister for justice Michael McDowell still lay idle. The site at Clonmore, 11km from the college, was to be developed for driving, tactics and firearms courses.
Gardaí, he said, still had to rely on the help of the army which let them use their firing ranges.
Meanwhile, changes in divisional boundaries are also causing gardaí some concern.
Divisions are contained within county boundaries, but that means that in some instances the nearest 24-hour station doesn’t cover some towns.
Tipperary-based Garda Olive McNamara said that as a result gardaí in Nenagh were having to cover Lorrha, which is also in Tipperary but 32km away. However, the nearest 24-hour station at Birr, Co Offaly, is just 8km away. Newport has also been transferred to Nenagh control, even though it is much nearer to the 24-hour station at Killaloe, Co Clare.
She said Nenagh gardaí were under severe pressure covering a much extended area.
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