Maybe Gardai can play a Tune at the Checkpoints?

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‘Concern’ at lack of training as Garda Band members put in ‘dangerous’ scenarios

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5th May 2021

Members of the Garda Band have been dispatched to frontline roles due to the pandemic halting their duties, but some claim they have been placed in ‘dangerous’ scenarios for which they have not been trained.© Provided by Extra.ie

The Irish Daily Mail has learned that some members of the Garda Band have been tasked with patrolling city streets, which has placed them in aggressive situations.

Garda Band members receive what one member described as ‘rudimentary’ training on entering the force. They are fully sworn members of the force but do not complete full training at the Garda Training College in Templemore.a close up of a bowl: Members of the Garda Band have been dispatched to frontline roles due to the pandemic halting their duties, but some claim they have been placed in ‘dangerous’ scenarios for which they have not been trained. Pic: Photocall Ireland© Provided by Extra.ie Members of the Garda Band have been dispatched to frontline roles due to the pandemic halting their duties, but some claim they have been placed in ‘dangerous’ scenarios for which they have not been trained. Pic: Photocall Ireland

Instead, they are recruited based on an interview, test of musical ability, medical examination and character clearance.

The band’s duties usually involve playing at official Garda functions, as well as at community and sporting events. In January, the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, redeployed ‘staff from non- frontline duties to operational stations’ as part of emergency measures to deal with staff shortages during the pandemic.

This included 23 members of the 27-strong Garda Band.a clock tower on top of a pole: Some members of the Garda Band have been tasked with patrolling city streets, which has placed them in aggressive situations. Pic: Shutterstock© Provided by Extra.ie Some members of the Garda Band have been tasked with patrolling city streets, which has placed them in aggressive situations. Pic: Shutterstock

A spokesman for An Garda Síochána said that those who were redeployed ‘have undergone initial induction training at the Garda College and a designated training Garda station’.

However, one member of the band said they have been ‘concerned’ at the lack of training and described some of the situations they have faced as ‘dangerous’.

The members have been tasked with a range of duties such as patrolling on city streets as well as working at Garda checkpoints.a blue and white sign: Garda Band members receive what one member described as ‘rudimentary’ training on entering the force. Pic: Shutterstock© Provided by Extra.ie Garda Band members receive what one member described as ‘rudimentary’ training on entering the force. Pic: Shutterstock

Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North-West Paul McAuliffe said members of the band were being asked to carry out roles for which they were not trained.

‘I think it is worrying that we have a situation like this and I would ask the Minister for Justice to make sure gardaí are only being deployed to roles they are trained for,’ he said. A spokesman for An Garda Síochána said decisions on duties performed by redeployed members are made locally by divisional officers based on ‘current operational knowledge and recent operational experience’.

He added: ‘The majority of redeployed members were assigned to community policing duties, engaging directly with those most vulnerable in communities, ie collecting and delivering prescriptions, pensions and groceries etc, station duties (including control rooms) allowing other Garda members to be assigned to outdoor frontline duties, or checkpoint duties in the company of more experienced operational members where appropriate.’a sign on the side of a building: Garda Band members are fully sworn members of the force but do not complete full training at the Garda Training College in Templemore. Pic: Shutterstock© Provided by Extra.ie Garda Band members are fully sworn members of the force but do not complete full training at the Garda Training College in Templemore. Pic: Shutterstock

The Garda Band was established shortly after the foundation of An Garda Síochána in 1922.

However, it was disbanded on the orders of then Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan Sr in 1965, with its 35 members told to return to normal duties.

Mr Lenihan said at the time that the band had ‘outlived its usefulness’ and that the cost of maintaining it was ‘excessive’.

The band was re-established in 1972, to mark the 50th anniversary of An Garda Síochána.

Figures show that the Garda Band cost the taxpayer €1.78million in 2018.

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