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Communities should not be have to settle for McDowell's Garda reserve

2 October, 2006

Speaking after training of the first batch of volunteers for McDowells Garda reserve force commenced last weekend Sinn Féin spokesperson for Justice, Equality and Human Rights Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh said "This training is dangerously inadequate. In just a few short weeks these volunteers will be vested with powers and privileges akin to those of full members of the Garda Síochána yet they will undergo a mere fraction of the training and on-the-job learning."

He said, "This is not fair on communities who deserve policing of the highest standard, from a fully trained and professional service. Neither will it be fair on the reserve volunteers themselves who will form part of a parallel police force incapable of ensuring comparable human rights standards in their activities.

"There is a gulf between the Garda Síochána and working class communities in this state and the reserve force will do nothing to close this gap. It is not an acceptable substitute for proper resourcing of community policing and will do nothing to create greater community confidence in the Gardaí. The bulk of the Gardaí want nothing to do with the reserve force and both the GRA and AGSI are opposed to it, so why should communities be expected to settle for it?

"The prospect of under-trained, unaccountable volunteers with police powers is becoming a reality which poses significant human rights concerns and I am again calling on the Minister to abandon his plans. Rather, any extra Garda numbers needed should be achieved through the civilianisation of a number of Garda duties in particular admin duties and by introducing a dedicated civilian traffic corps. An Garda Síochána have a very low percentage of civilian staff by comparative international standards." ENDS

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