*Photograph: Arthur Ellis
A suggested armed response unit in Co Clare has been shot down by the Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána.
Anne Marie McMahon, the Assistant Commissioner of the Southern Region of An Garda Síochána addressed elected representatives of Clare County Council on Monday last and disagreed with Cllr James Breen on the need for an armed response unit in the county.
Cllr Breen first highlighted his concern with the consequences of a possible merging of the Clare and Galway Garda Divisions. “Will it affect traffic corps, crime prevention & ordinary policing on the ground,” he asked.
“Should we have an armed response unit on the ground, they have one in Galway and Limerick, we have Shannon Airport which is under constant threat of an attack. We have to have our own armed response unit in this county. Is it possible to have one in Shannon or Ennis,” the Kilnamona councillor said.
He also welcomed McMahon’s confirmation that a Chief Superintendent would be appointed “in the near future. “John Kerin has done a marvellous job in this county and that is the type of man we want”.
In response, the former Roxboro Rd Chief Superintendent pointed out that Garda Armed Support Unit is structured in regions as opposed to counties. “The RSU that you mentioned in Galway covers Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Clare, it is for the region and that is the way forward, it is a welcome development, these are highly trained people and there is a system in place for deployment of response unit, we don’t confine ourself to county boundaries. At the moment the commitment is to have them rolled out in each of the regions and that is being achieved”.
From April 2016 onwards, Armed Support Units were deployed to patrol both Dublin Airport and Dublin Port full-time on foot inside the terminal buildings and via outdoor vehicles surrounding the perimeter in possession of sub-machine guns, sidearms, tasers and other specialist equipment. This came in light of a growing number of terrorist attacks in Europe. Last March, a simulated major armed incident was staged at Shannon Airport as part of an exercise for local response units.