Sentencing for assaults against the Gardaí and other emergency services workers may be increased, said acting-Justice Minister Simon Harris, as he said that there was “nothing off the table” to support law enforcement.
“Government takes nothing off the table in terms of additional measures we can take to support Gardaí in their jobs,” he said.
“We do have legislation in relation to an assault on frontline emergency staff, I’m going to look at that in terms of the sentencing provisions that are already there in legislation.”
The government is reportedly looking to double the maximum sentence for assault, raising the sentence from 5 years to 10, and provide Gardaí with better equipment, including bodycams.
The remarks come after Gardaí were attacked and hospitalised following a funeral in Ballyfermot on Monday, which left the local community “appalled” according to Harris.
The news comes just months after a viral video in November showed two Gardaí in Ballyfermot, including a female officer, being seriously assaulted by unknown attackers. The video was posted alongside laughing emojis, with the caption “Ballyer’s finest.”
The male Garda was hospitalised with head injures, and the female Garda suffered unspecified wounds.
This came just weeks after an incident Cherry Orchard, footage of which also went viral on social media, in which joyriding youths were filmed repeatedly ramming a Garda squad car while a crowd of other youths cheered.
Hundreds of Gardaí have been assaulted in recent years, with a 17% jump in the number of attacks since 2021.
Hundreds of Gardaí have been assaulted in the last 2 years, as attacks jump 17%.#gripthttps://t.co/CGX7Ar8Eia
— gript (@griptmedia) January 20, 2023
According to a spokesman for the Garda Representative Association, Garda Damien McCarthy, the problem has been getting worse for years and has become a “massive issue.”
Speaking to Newstalk, McCarthy said that weak sentencing in the courts was playing a part in Gardaí being targeted.
“We need action in terms of new legislation to ensure that there are adequate pieces of legislation to protect frontline public service workers,” he said.
“I think the legislation should act as a deterrent. It is not working at the moment and stronger measures are needed in legislation to ensure that those who attack frontline service workers are prosecuted.”