Garda Commissioner Drew Harris met with the four Garda representative associations at their request on the issues of assaults on Gardaí and recruitment yesterday evening.
According to a spokesperson, Commissioner Harris “condemned these assaults and outlined that the organisation would be seeking to procure enhanced and additional safety equipment for Gardaí, and provide them with further training.”
He also said he supports the introduction of the use of body cams by officers.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors also called for the use of bodycams by An Garda Síochána to be expedited.
General Secretary of the AGSI Antoinette Cunningham said this move needs to happen “sooner rather than later”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said there are questions about the safety of the job and the AGSI “will continue to call for public condemnation of attacks like this because if we don’t there’s a danger, they become normalised and you can’t have the very people that are trying to enforce the rule of law then becoming a victim of law themselves”.
She said that the AGSI is calling “very publicly” on the Minister for Justice to expedite legislation on body cams.
“We are asking the Minister for Justice to expedite that legislation. We’re hearing about body cameras for some time now and we don’t want to fall into the space where we’re over promising and under delivering on it.”
On the issue of recruitment, Commissioner Harris said that An Garda Síochána had experienced a drop in the number of Gardaí as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on training.
However, a spokesperson said that staff numbers have increased by 1,200 in recent years.
“This has enabled more than 800 Gardaí to be released from administrative roles to operational duties in areas such as tackling street level drug dealing, and preventing and detecting sexual crime and domestic abuse.”
Commissioner Harris said that in 2023 An Garda Síochána was planning to have classes of approximately 200 Garda students in the Garda College every 11/12 weeks.
Annual recruitment competitions for Gardaí will also be introduced with the first of these going live in Q1 2023.
In 2022, between retirements (340) and resignations (109), approximately 450 Gardaí left the organisation out of more than 14,000 Gardaí.
The number of Gardaí leaving via resignation in 2022 equates to approximately 0.8 per cent of Gardaí.
Commissioner Harris said: “The safety of Gardaí is of utmost importance and concern for An Garda Síochána, myself as Commissioner, and all four Garda Representative Associations.
“Regrettably, already this year we have seen a number of serious assaults on Gardaí.
“While all Gardaí accept policing has its risks, there can never be any excuse for these disgraceful attacks.
“It is not acceptable that a small minority in society – and it is only a small minority – feel that Gardaí can be attacked just because they are carrying out their duties.
“The vast majority of the public have great respect for the work that Gardaí do to keep them safe, their professionalism and dedication, and their empathy, particularly when engaging with the most vulnerable in our society.
“I will continue to ensure we provide Gardaí with the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”