Officers fighting the gang feud in Drogheda were left hours waiting for support from the Garda Emergency Response Unit last week with a lack of resources available to officers putting lives at risk, the Garda Representative Association have claimed.
The GRA say that there are 21 current vacancies in the specialist armed unit that have yet to be filled. In a lengthy 2,000 letter sent to the head of the Emergency Response Unit, a local GRA rep cited a lack of officers, training and equipment which is leading officers to fail to adequately respond to serious incidents across the country.
In the letter, it is claimed that officers in Drogheda requested ERU back up last week but were left waiting for several hours while last Friday no back-up whatsover was available to be called upon.
The GRA letter claims armed patrols have been reduced, minimum numbers of officers are not always on duty when tactical interventions are required and it is also claimed that the capability to deal with serious issues such as a major firearms incident or terrorist attack is not there at present.
Garda Headquarters, in response, say there is a specialist firearms response capability to any critical firearms incidents that may occur nationwide. Of the 21 vacancies available in the ERU, four of those have been assigned to protect Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
The GRA delegate Ciaran O’Neill says life saving equipment is out of date, all bulletproof vests are well past the manufacturer’s warranty and some are ten years old. Newer members, he said, have been issued with out of date second-hand heavy duty body armour.
The claims will be damaging for An Garda Siochana. If it seems there are inadequate resources to protect officers who are positioned in areas like Drogheda in the midst of a deadly feud, there will be less confidence in the police service’s ability to protect the general public.