The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., has announced the introduction of an incapacitant spray (more commonly known as pepper spray) for use by all operational members of An Garda Síochána.

The decision follows a recommendation from the Garda Commissioner and follows concerns over a marked increase in both assaults and obstructions experienced by Garda members in the course of their duty.

In announcing the measure at the Garda Graduation Ceremony in Templemore today, Minister Ahern said that the assaults against Gardaí causing harm have more than doubled during the period 2005 – 2007.

The Minister said: "The use of so–called pepper spray by police in other jurisdictions has been found to be a contributing factor in reducing such assaults and injuries to Police Officers. It was also found that the use by Police of such sprays has been a factor in reducing injuries to suspects as well as a reduction in allegations of excessive force against Police Officers".

The Minister said that as well as considering the operational requirements of the Force and the experience gained in other jurisdictions, the expert views and advice of the Garda Chief Medical Officer, who consulted with external medical experts, was an important aspect of the Garda decision making process.

This decision is in line with the recommendation of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate’s second report on Barricade Incidents which recommended that such sprays be made available to all operational members in the interest of officer safety.

The Minister added: "I remain determined that An Garda Síochána have at their disposal the most modern equipment to allow them to operate safely and effectively whilst at the same time offering protection to both the public and members alike. "

23 October 2008