HALF of County Clare’s Garda force may have been detailed to Dublin for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II but nevertheless, there are more gardaí on the beat than normal around the county. This should come as reassuring news to those who felt the county might be at risk of a crime spree this week due to the mass exodus of gardaí.
The Clare Champion has learned that members of the Clare Garda Division, ranging from gardaí to sergeants and up to the rank of inspector, have been assigned to security for the Queen’s visit in Dublin.
Also, there will be a turn-around of garda personnel from the division to cover security and other duties for US President Barack Obama’s visit next week.
The absence of manpower has not “really impacted on resources” in Clare, according to Chief Superintendent John Kerin. This is due to the cancellation of annual leave, rest days and course days and the temporary introduction of 12-hour shifts to cover routine policing requirements.
“Everyone that is left is on 12-hour shifts to pick up the slack. There has been no reduction in resource availability. In actual fact, there are more resources available now than there would be on a normal day because the Garda Commissioner has prevented people from taking rest days or annual leave.
“With the odd exception of people who have been granted leave for foreign holidays, every member of the force is working for this week,” Chief Supt Kerin said.
Clare gardaí involved in the security operation have been in Dublin since Monday but courses in Templemore, training and annual leave have been cancelled to allow resources to be available for routine and other policing duties.
Chief Supt Kerin said the measures put in place to facilitate routine policing and to accommodate the security measures needed for both high-profile visits had been agreed without opposition with the members and the Garda Representative Association.
“There has been no opposition. This has all been agreed with the association and, in fairness, if people had applied for leave in advance of this, for instance going on foreign holidays, they were allowed.
“There’s an understanding within the force and the association that this is one of the biggest and most challenging events the country has ever faced and the organisation is also very conscious of the importance of it to the country and that it goes well, so there is a lot of goodwill on all sides, from the Garda Representative Association and the commissioner, for this to ensure that all goes well, so there is a lot of flexibility there,” he said.
He added resources are often deployed for state visits and involves maybe one week every few years. This kind of planning is normally what is put in place.
It is understood the garda members remaining on duty in Clare this week will take over from those involved in security for the Queen’s state visit when US President Barack Obama arrives in Ireland on Monday.
Hopes that President Obama might use Shannon as a departure gate at the end of his visit can now be ruled out. It is understood that no plans have been made at Shannon Airport to cover this eventuality.
Chief Supt Kerin said no provisions have been made in Clare for President Obama and there is no expectation that he will come through Shannon Airport.
l For more on the Queen’s visit, see page 5