Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín T.D. says he has submitted a new Bill to the Dail that if enacted would provide for a minimum custodial sentence for those who physically assault a Garda or Health and Emergency Service worker.
It comes as a traffic garda had part of finger bitten off in a vicious attack in Ballymun and after a man was arrested after a Garda car was torched in Donegal.
The Bill is expected to come before the Dáil for 1st stage this week.
“In an answer to a Parliamentary Question that we in Aontú received just in the last few weeks,” Deputy Tóibín said.
“We found out that 2,411 Gardaí have been assaulted while on active duty over the last 10 years.
“This is absolutely not acceptable that hundreds of Gardaí going about their service to the community would be assaulted. This is a terrifying figure for both Gardaí and their families.
“The Government must take steps to protect Gardaí while they are serving our community
“At the end of last year we saw two Gardaí seriously assaulted in Ballyfermot.
“This is disgusting.
“The Government have been hung the Gardaí out to dry, under-resourced and understaffed. According to a Eurostat report in 2016 Ireland had one of the smallest per capita police forces in the EU at 278 Garda for every 100,000 people.
“This was 40 police officers per 100,000 people less than the EU average.
“This leaves Gardaí vulnerable.
“The most recent figure that I have received from the Department of Justice shows that there are now only 280 Gardaí per 100,000 in the state.
“Its hardly improved since the dark days of austerity. We have also found out that only 150 Garda trainees were recruited last year yet hundreds of Gardaí are retiring.
“At the same time.
“The Government has taken the decision to not provide a full time Minister for Justice for the period of Helen McEntee’s Maternity Leave.
“We wish Helen McEntee well on Maternity Leave. She is entitled to it. But it is completely absurd at a time when Gardaí are under so much pressure and the nation is being rocked by a spiralling crime crisis that Minister McEntee is not being replaced by a full time Minister.
“Aontú is calling for the Government to support our bill for a minimum custodial sentence for those who physically assault a Garda.
“Our Bill also seeks to provide prison officers, a member of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel and Health service workers with protection.
“Frontline staff working in the lreland East Hospital group have made 3,500 assault reports in the last seven years.
“We have also seen Fire Service personnel attacked with bottle and rocks while they are doing their live save work.
“These workers put themselves in harm’s way for the protection of other citizens need to be protected with adequate resources and the law.”