'Most challenging environment': Rep says Gardaí bore brunt of public anger during Covid protests

“Members were subjected to sustained injury and endured abuse and harassment in simply doing their job." 
'Most challenging environment': Rep says Gardaí bore brunt of public anger during Covid protests

"The scenes where members were shouted at, assaulted, spat at and generally abused with no respect for social distancing guidelines brought home the unpredictability and the dangers associated with policing.” 

GARDAÍ bore the brunt of the anger simmering within communities, including at protests in Cork and Dublin earlier this year.

That is according to the interim general secretary of the Garda Representative Association, Philip McAnenly, who was speaking at the association’s annual conference in Killarney today.

“In the Covid pandemic our members have continued to attend work in a most challenging environment," he said. "Early in 2021 we saw the public begin to lose patience and become frustrated with the public health restrictions. 

"Our members bore the brunt of the anger simmering within our communities and embodied in the public protest on Grafton street in February and Cork city in March.” 

He continued: “Members were subjected to sustained injury and endured abuse and harassment in simply doing their job. The images of a rocket being fired at head height into a line of gardaí on Grafton Street in February 2021 gained national[ao1] and international attention. The scenes where members were shouted at, assaulted, spat at and generally abused with no respect for social distancing guidelines brought home the unpredictability and the dangers associated with policing.” 

He raised concerns about gardaí not having been included in the early cohorts for vaccination, adding: “Even when our members were asked to police public gatherings and outdoor dining while using discretion armed with little more than their own operational experience and professional judgment, they did so largely unvaccinated.” 

He told delegates that gardaí have adjusted to new ways of working during the pandemic, including the introduction of an emergency roster which introduced 12-hour shifts and reduced the number of shifts from five to four.

He said the emergency roster will continue until at least January 23 next year.

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