The Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has welcomed the proposal from the Minister for Justice to reduce the number of armed Gardaí.
Deputy O’Brien did however caution about giving the go-ahead to policy recommendations based purely on saving money.
The Cork North Central TD said:
“It is Sinn Féin’s view that we should have a routinely unarmed policing service across the island, and furthermore that any use of force by Gardaí is guided by the principle and practice of minimum force. This was one of the recommendations by Patten for the PSNI, and should equally apply in this state, not only with regard to firearms but also so-called ‘less-lethal’ weapons such as tasers and pepper sprays.
“Sinn Féin is opposed to the routine arming and militarisation of policing throughout Ireland. However, we recognise that there are occasions where an armed response may be appropriate as a last resort, and that the priority in these circumstances must relate to the right to life of all individuals. We also recognise the need for proper training of the personnel involved. We never again want to see situations where the PSNI or Gardaí are involved in killings that could have been avoided – such as that which occurred in Abbeylara. Respect for human rights should be the basis all policing reforms.
“This Department of Justice proposal is to be welcomed but the Minister should steer away from endorsing such recommendations purely on the basis of their cost-saving potential. Within the context of a generally unarmed service, where strictly necessary armed response should be handled by specially trained units such as the Garda Emergency Response Unit, the Minister must ensure that they are adequately trained in the principle of minimum force. Also An Garda Siochana should be compelled to monitor international best practice developments and practices including unarmed techniques.”