You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

'The Public Order Unit's protective hoods are not fashion accessories, but safety requirements in certain circumstances'

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 14/09/2018 John O'Keeffe
a truck on a city street © Sean Murray TheJournal.ie

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author on behalf of our content partner and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft

THE EVENTS THAT took place on North Frederick Street are evidence, if any were needed, that often our members are the last and perhaps only line between potential chaos and order.

Gardaai and a group of men wearing balaclavas outside 34 North Frederick Street yesterday. © Rollingnews.ie Gardaai and a group of men wearing balaclavas outside 34 North Frederick Street yesterday. There has been much confusion with regard to the role of the Public Order Unit, who attended at this court-ordered eviction earlier this week.

At the outset, it is important to note that the frontline are under potential threat of attack every time they wear their uniform. Currently, they have only an extendable baton and pepper spray to defend themselves.

Activists who occoupied a house at North Frederick Street protest outside Store Street Garda Station © RollingNews.ie Activists who occoupied a house at North Frederick Street protest outside Store Street Garda Station Therefore, from time to time, An Garda Síochána will receive information as to when they may need to engage gardaí with specialist training.

Download the all-new Microsoft News app – available now on iOS and Android

Certain members of the Public Order Unit were thus deployed in North Frederick Street on Tuesday evening. As it transpired, while the eviction itself was peaceful, five persons were subsequently arrested for public order offences.

34 North Frederick Street © Hayley Halpin via TheJournal.ie 34 North Frederick Street Gardaí were subjected to both physical and verbal abuse and one frontline officer also suffered horrendous racial abuse.

Threats 

The primary role of the Public Order Unit is to deter and on occasion, repel any violence. Their uniform is designed to protect the wearer and to act as an optical deterrence to such violence. On the vast majority of occasions, this will be successful.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Activists who occoupied a house at North Frederick Street protest outside Store Street Garda Station © RollingNews.ie Activists who occoupied a house at North Frederick Street protest outside Store Street Garda Station However, when violence does occur, either towards members of the public or the gardaí themselves, this unit has specialist training to deal with such criminal acts over and above the training of frontline uniformed gardaí.

The flame retardant hood may also be worn by the Public Order Unit, for their own safety.

In a time when horrific acid attacks are becoming more prevalent, it also offers some protection from sprays or gases, or other noxious substance that may be used against our members in this unit.

Quite rightly, all our members are identifiable with their registration numbers on their

shoulders or their jackets. The hoods hide no Garda’s identity.

Activists occupying 34 North Frederick Street © Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie Activists occupying 34 North Frederick Street Commissioner Drew Harris has rightly stated that the hood should be worn at all times with a protective helmet and a directive to this effect has now been issued.

While the wearing of protective hoods, without helmets, was operationally incorrect, these hoods would doubtless be equally, if not more visually repugnant to certain protestors, when worn with a helmet.

One thing should be made clear. These protective hoods worn by the Public Order Unit are not fashion accessories but safety requirements in certain circumstances.

No threat whatsoever emanates from this ordinary group of men and women. Indeed the idea that members of the Public Order Unit are somehow agent provocateurs, is a truly worn narrative that has zero basis in fact.

They are against nothing except breaches of the law. As ever, the only threat comes from those who seek to breach the peace – not those who protect it.

34 North Frederick Street © Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie 34 North Frederick Street Frontline members of An Garda Síochána have one job and one job only – to serve the public and protect the peace. They are not present to agree or disagree with protestors on whatever issue may be the subject of any given protest.

Right to protest 

Everyone has a right to peaceful protest, whatever their political or other opinion, and our members cherish this right as much as any citizen of our country. What they are employed to do however is to ensure that no violence occurs during such lawful protests.

a group of people walking down a street: Take Back The City activists engaged in a sit-down protest at the top of O'Connell Street on Tuesday of this week after being forcibly evicted from the occupied building on nearby North Frederick Street the previous night © RollingNews.ie Take Back The City activists engaged in a sit-down protest at the top of O'Connell Street on Tuesday of this week after being forcibly evicted from the occupied building on nearby North Frederick Street the previous night All our frontline do an incredible job protecting the general public. The Public Order Unit should be especially commended for the typical restraint they always exhibit and indeed showed in the face of provocation in North Great Frederick Street.

The events that transpired on Tuesday night, show how important a presence they can be in certain situations. The GRA thanks them and all our frontline for their professional service in this regard – as we know, do the vast majority of the general public they serve.

John O’Keeffe is Communications Director of the Garda Representative Association and Editor, Garda Review.

Follow us on Facebook, and on Twitter

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Journal.ie

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon