The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell TD, today published a review by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate of Garda practices and procedures for barricade incidents. The report is being laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas this afternoon.
The Garda Síochána Inspectorate were requested to review the findings of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting by the Garda Síochána of John Carthy at Abbeylara, Co. Longford in April 2000; to assess the reforms implemented by the Garda Síochána since the fatal shooting; and to recommend any additional steps needed to bring the force in line with the highest standards of police operations.
In the report, the Inspectorate acknowledges the many reforms which have been implemented by the Garda Síochána in the years following the shooting at Abbeylara. It emphasises, however, that practices and procedures for dealing with barricade incidents must be continuously improved and updated, taking account of best practice in policing. It therefore sets out a number of recommendations which, taken with the measures already implemented by the Garda Síochána, will in its view add significantly to the likelihood of positive outcomes to future barricade incidents.
The recommendations cover issues such as the development of protocols by the Garda Siochana on responding to and investigating barricade incidents, the establishment of a roster of mental health professionals to advise Garda negotiation teams, special training for on-scene commanders, equipment such as digital radio, protective vests and specialised vehicles, and the use of firearms and less lethal weapons.
The report recommends the establishment of a second tier Garda response to deal with these incidents prior to the arrival of the Emergency Response Unit. In accordance with the Inspectorate's recommendations, the Tánaiste has today given approval to the Garda Commissioner to extend the use of the approved less lethal weapons to the second tier response teams. Other proposals in relation to the use of less lethal weapons contained in the Inspectorate's report will be brought by the Tánaiste for the consideration of the Government in the near future.
The report also recommends that protocols should be put in place to provide for the flow of appropriate, timely and accurate information to media organisations and the general public in relation to barricade incidents.
Welcoming the report, the Tánaiste said "On the publication of this report, our first thoughts must be with the family of John Carthy. His death was a terrible tragedy. This report affords an opportunity to learn from what happened at Abbeylara so that, so far as humanly possible, such deaths can be avoided in the future.
This report is a comprehensive independent, expert review of Garda management of barricade incidents. I believe that the implementation of the recommendations will very significantly enhance the capacity of the force to respond to such incidents.
The Garda Commissioner has also welcomed the report, and has already established an implementation group, headed by Assistant Commissioner Rice, to oversee the implementation of the recommendations.
As the report notes, considerable progress has been made since the Abbeylara incident in 2000. Recent developments include the selection of Tetra Ireland Limited as the preferred bidder for the provision of a national digital radio network for the Garda Síochána and the other emergency services. Protective vests, providing ballistic and anti-stab protection, are being distributed to every operational member of the force. Over 2,500 have now been issued, and distribution is continuing. 250 acres of land have been purchased near the Garda College at Templemore for tactical firearms training and other training purposes. A firing range will also be built as part of the new Forensic Science Laboratory at Garda Headquarters, and additional firearms training facilities will also be secured in the Eastern region.
These major developments will now be reinforced by the comprehensive implementation of the recommendations of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate. The Garda Commissioner is committed to this, and he will have my full support.
I want to thank Chief Inspector Kathleen O'Toole and her team for their clear and timely recommendations on such an important matter. Its expert and objective advice is a significant support for the Garda Síochána in its programme of change and modernisation."
6 March 2007