ERU and garda top brass clash over resources to tackle feuding Drogheda drugs gangs
The GRA claims life-saving equipment is out of date and all bulletproof vests are well past the manufacturer’s warranty with some ten years old
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The row intensified on Tuesday after the senior officer fighting the Drogheda mobsters insisted the elite Emergency Response Unit is always ready for action.
Chief Supt Christy Mangan was responding to claims by the garda rank-and-file group that the ERU is understaffed, badly equipped and lives are being put at risk.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) made the sensational claims in a 2,000-word dossier sent to Garda HQ.
It says life-saving equipment is out of date and all bulletproof vests are past the manufacturer’s warranty, with some 10 years old.
The GRA’s Ciaran O’Neill said newer members have been issued with out- of-date, second-hand heavy duty body armour.
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After Chief Superintendent Mangan intervened to play down the claims, the Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors, backed up the claims of rank-and-file colleagues.
The GRA had claimed there are 21 vacancies in the crack unit with several officers deployed protecting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
Most serious is the claim that regular gardai were left waiting hours for armed back-up in Drogheda, Co Louth.
Chief Supt Mangan disputed this in an interview with LMFM radio, saying: “I have never had any difficulty in securing the services of the ERU – they will be here at a moment’s notice for me, let it be 3 o’clock in the day or 3 o’clock in the morning – they have been here.
“I’m never shy about saying when we don’t have enough resources. I would always be very frank with the public – if there was a problem I would say it.”
He said that after the recent shooting of an innocent taxi driver in the town, the ERU were at the scene so quickly they were able to administer medical support to the injured man before ambulance crews arrived.
AGSI deputy general secretary Antoinette Cunningham insisted calls for more resources for the elite unit were not “scaremongering”.
She said policing has become more violent and aggressive in its nature and full capacity response was needed at all times for emergency units.
The row has spilled over to the general election campaign.
Labour’s Ged Nash, who is standing in Louth, described the GRA claims as disturbing and demanded an urgent response.