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The scene on the Ballyfermot Road, Dublin where two Gardai were hospitalised after being attacked when called to a public order incident outside a public house. Pic: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The scene on the Ballyfermot Road, Dublin where two Gardai were hospitalised after being attacked when called to a public order incident outside a public house.
Horror attack on gardaí leads to calls for strict mandatory sentencing

22nd November 2022

Senior gardaí have called for mandatory sentencing laws after a late-night attack in Ballyfermot, Dublin, left two gardaí in hospital.

Antoinette Cunningham, the general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), called on the Government to introduce mandatory sentencing for people who assault emergency workers, including gardaí, paramedics and fire brigade personnel.

She also called for body cameras to be issued to all gardaí, which she said have not been provided by successive governments. Four people have been arrested after a video showed a male garda being kicked and punched on the ground while his female colleague tried to fight off the assailants before being dragged away by the hair.

Both gardaí were taken to St James’s Hospital. The woman was released after the treatment and the man was held for the night and released later yesterday.

Pic: Instagram© Provided by Evoke.ie

Two men, one aged in his 50s and one in his 30s, were arrested at the scene and are currently being detained at Ballyfermot Garda Station.

A woman aged in her 50s was also arrested at the scene. She has been charged and will appear in court at a later date. Another man was arrested yesterday and is also being questioned at Ballyfermot Garda Station.

The call for new laws was largely supported by Justice Minister Helen McEntee, who said that she is already increasing the sentencing for assault and said she is considering new laws for gardaí after the latest ‘thuggish’ attack in Ballyfermot.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, the AGSI’s Ms Cunningham said: ‘There has to be a deterrent there to say that if you assault an emergency worker, gardaí, fire brigade or an ambulance worker in the course of their duty, then that will receive the mandatory sentence by the courts.’

Antoinette Cunningham, president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI). Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins© Provided by Evoke.ie

Ms Cunningham said she has spoken to her colleagues in Ballyfermot this morning and there is a ‘deep sense of unease amongst them all’. ‘To see colleagues on the ground, being kicked, beaten and assaulted while bystanders stand there and film it is absolutely shocking.’

She said they have been calling for the introduction of body cameras for some time, but were told by Garda headquarters recently that they would not be used by An Garda Síochána before 2024.

‘That is a very long time to wait. There needs to be more accountability though by social media outlets in the meantime,’ Ms Cunningham added. ‘They need to stop the circulation of this type of material.’

President of the Garda Representative Association Brendan O’Connor said everyone is shocked at the ‘sustained nature of the assault’.

The scene on the Ballyfermot Road, Dublin where two Gardai were hospitalised after being attacked when called to a public order incident outside a public house. Pic: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin© Provided by Evoke.ie

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr O’Connor said there has been a ‘massive escalation’ in the levels of violence that members of An Garda Síochána are facing. He also called for legislation for mandatory custodial sentences ‘to provide both a deterrent as a form of protection and a punishment’, and for better equipment and training for gardaí.

Mr O’Connor said most other police forces carry body cameras but that in this case, mobile phone footage is being relied on to help investigate what happened. Planned legislation for body cams for gardaí was ‘not moving quickly enough’, he said.

Ms McEntee yesterday held open the possibility of new laws to protect gardaí after the ‘despicable’ attack.

‘The disgusting and thuggish attacks on members of An Garda Síochána show complete disrespect for our gardaí. My thoughts are with the Garda members involved and their families. These types of despicable incidents are unacceptable.

Antoinette Cunningham, president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI). Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins© Provided by Evoke.ie

‘This appalling incident will not be treated lightly. I am already increasing sentences for assault. I will not hesitate to take further action to protect our gardaí and frontline workers,’ she added.

The attack was condemned by politicians across the spectrum, with Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald, calling it ‘shocking and disgraceful’.

The Garda Press Office said the two gardaí were called to ‘a public order incident’ at a pub on Ballyfermot Road at approximately 12.45am on Monday morning.

‘In the course of dealing with the incident, both members were assaulted by a number of persons that were present and called for assistance from nearby colleagues who arrived within a very short period of time,’ it said.

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