'Mixed messaging' about armed garda units on patrol in Dublin – assistant commissioner

'Mixed Messaging' About Armed Garda Units On Patrol In Dublin – Assistant Commissioner
The Minister for Justice allocated an additional €10 million for garda overtime in the city. Photo: PA Images
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Cillian Sherlock, PA

The Garda assistant commissioner for the Dublin metropolitan region has clarified what she called “mixed messaging” over armed garda units on patrol in the capital.

On Tuesday, Assistant Commissioner Angela Willis said uniformed gardaí would be supported by armed units as part of efforts to increase garda visibility in the capital.


The measure was part of an announcement detailing how a €10 million additional overtime allocation would be used in Dublin, following a spate of high-profile assaults in the city.

On Wednesday, Ms Willis clarified the details of the plan by saying gardaí from the specialist units will be patrolling in their armed support vehicles but will not be “on the street on the beat”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One radio programme following a meeting with representatives of Dublin businesses, Ms Willis said: “I suppose there’s been some mixed messaging in relation to the armed response units.



“So just to reassure everyone, we’ve had the armed response units in Dublin City since 2016, and they support our operational people on a daily basis, on a 24/7 basis in relation to matters that require thoughtful response.

“We won’t see armed guards on the street on the beat, we will see – what we always see are the armed support vehicles on patrol and as required then they will be available to respond and to support matters that require that level of expertise that they can bring to particularly harmful situations and high-risk situations that we deal with on a daily basis.


“This is nothing new, I suppose. We will increase our visibility, and we’ll do that through the deployment as we said of, you know, leveraging support from the regional units, which we’ve done before as well.”

Garda ceremony to present Commemorative Centenary Medal/Coin
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (Brian Lawless/PA)

Also clarifying the initial statement, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the details of the overtime allocation had been misunderstood.


Speaking to RTÉ’s Claire Byrne radio programme on Wednesday, she said: “I have to stress this: We’re not going to have armed guards standing on our corners with helmets and batons and shields.

“Operation Citizen, which is in place for about two years now, is about high-visibility patrols across the city centre and that operation has always been supported by the armed support units.

“They’re in their vans, they’re there, they’re around the city, and they’re there to respond whether it’s a knife crime, incidents that escalate where there’s a threat, that’s not going to change with this plan.

“What is being included now is the Public Order Unit, but they won’t have helmets, batons, shields. They’re in plainclothes, or they’re in normal garda clothes, and they’re there to assist in the foot patrols, particularly at nighttime.”


Minister Simon Harris
Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Also addressing the policing plan, Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris said there has been public concern in relation to safety in Dublin city.

Mr Harris, who covered the justice portfolio while Ms McEntee was on maternity leave, told reporters in Lucan: “It’s a question of gardai on patrol and having specialist units who can be there as back-up should an incident arise.

“And quite frankly, I think when you do see situations regarding knife crime and the like, sometimes there can be a need for specialist units and I think it needs to be seen in that context.”

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