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Gardaí demand “special taskforce” to protect officers from assaults

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has contacted the Taoiseach and acting Justice Minister Simon Harris to demand the establishment of a “special taskforce” to protect Gardaí from assault.

On Tuesday evening an Association spokesperson called for a meeting with the government to “discuss the many serious issues and concerns affecting our members of An Garda Síochána at this time,” saying that the meeting must take place as “a matter of extreme urgency.”

The news comes mere days after a man was accused of biting off part of a Garda’s finger during an attempted arrest on Saturday.

New figures revealed last week show that hundreds of Gardaí have ben assaulted in the last 2 years, with attacks on police officers jumping 17%.

GRA spokesman Garda Damien McCarthy told Newstalk that such assaults were becoming a “massive issue” and that stronger “deterrent” was needed, as current laws are “not working at the moment.”

Speaking on the matter this week, GRA interim General Secretary Philip McAnenly said that the rise in attacks on Gardaí are contributing to low morale among members of the force, and may be hindering recruitment drives.

“An Garda Síochána today faces an unprecedented challenge with rising assaults on our members, failures within both the recruitment process and the retention of gardaí contributing to a situation of low morale among those we represent,” he said.

“We have outlined all these issues with our colleagues in government and have requested these meetings as a matter of extreme urgency.”

Additionally, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris called the attacks “disgraceful” and “not acceptable,” adding that “the safety of Gardaí is of utmost importance”.

“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 Garda Commissioner also added that due to population growth, demographic change, and “the rapidly changing nature of crime,” he believes that there is a “strong case to be made” for Ireland having more than 15,000 Gardaí.

As it stands, Ireland has around 14,300 police officers, though the numbers of Gardaí quitting the force is now at its highest level in five years, with retention becoming a major issue.

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