SAFETY FEARS | 

Calls to speed up bodycam legislation after garda almost loses finger in Dublin attack

There have been 10 resignations from the force in the past three weeks, according to Ms Cunningham, which she said highlights an ongoing problem with retention within the force.

A police bodycam

Eoghan MoloneyIndependent.ie

Gardaí are calling on Minister for Justice Simon Harris to hurry up legislation which will allow gardaí to wear body cameras in the wake of a garda almost losing a finger in an assault in Dublin in recent days.

Assaults on gardaí are becoming an “all too frequent occurrence” and gardaí are now considering the safety of their job, said Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

There have been 10 resignations from the force in the past three weeks, according to Ms Cunningham, which she said highlights an ongoing problem with retention within the force.

“For us that raises a question about the safety of our job. And as an association, we will continue to call for public condemnation of attacks like this because if we don't, there's a danger they become normalised. And that is unacceptable,” Ms Cunningham told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

“You can't have the very people that are trying to enforce the rule of law, then becoming a victim of law themselves, and it's very, very regrettable what happened to our colleague, these type of injuries are very serious, they're life altering, and they should be deemed unacceptable by everybody in civilised society.

“We're calling very publicly this morning on the Minister for Justice to expedite the legislation - we've seen before where government can move legislation through the houses of the Oireachtas very quickly when the need arises. And there's no greater need than the protection of the people who serve society,”

Police forces in many neighbouring jurisdictions have had bodycams “for a long number of years” and, Ms Cunningham said, “sadly, we’re far behind our colleagues in other police forces”.

The Government has recently indicated that it will increase the maximum sentence for assaulting a member of the force but this should also be extended to all frontline services such as paramedics and firefighters, gardaí believe.

“We heard last night that a nurse was assaulted as well. We're very conscious of the other blue light services but we do need to tougher sentences. There has to be something that prohibits people from assaulting emergency frontline workers,” Ms Cunningham said.

“There are a lot of issues in An Garda Síochána, with 109 people who resigned from the force last year – unprecedented. We heard in a personnel bulletin last week that there have been 10 resignations already this year.

“That's an issue that's going to have to be addressed and explored as to the reasons why the people are leaving the organisation.”

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