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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Louise Burne

Taoiseach calls for Garda Commissioner to engage with Gardai about protest training concerns

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has suggested that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris should meet with Gardaí to discuss concerns they do not have adequate protest training.

The Fine Gael leader also said that there is a "way of managing protests" and that the "public don’t understand" why Gardaí do not intervene in demonstrations.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Antoinette Cunningham, General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), said that Gardaí felt "grossly undertrained" to deal with protests.

READ MORE: Asylum seeker arrivals at Clare hotel suspended four weeks as blockade talks continue

It follows a number of anti-asylum demonstrations at Dublin’s Sandwith Street and at Inch in Clare over the last week.

She said: "Members do not receive training and have not received training for some time in relation to peaceful crowd management, dealing with protests, the Public Order Act, the Incitement to Hatred Act, proper in-person training around domestic violence issues.

"Members themselves regard themselves as grossly undertrained or not trained at all to deal with these issues. This is ok where there is a planned protest where the Public Order Unit are on standby. But we don’t have a full-time Public Order Unit."

Speaking in Tipperary, the Taoiseach said that he spoke to Justice Minister Simon Harris following his meeting with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and that he had assured him that "the resources that they already have are adequate and the training is in place".

He added: "I understand that the AGSI has written to the Garda Commissioner. I think it is important that an engagement happens and we as a government are determined to make sure that the gardaí are properly resourced and properly trained.

"I know that policing these protests is very difficult. I've seen the kind of abuse the Gardaí get, we stand fully with the gardaí.

"I also think sometimes the public don't understand why gardaí don't intervene in a protest. But there's a way of managing protests and you know, I very much support the gardaí, their work."


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