Concern that the Garda armed support unit in Dublin is ‘not operating at full capacity’


Serious concerns have been raised about the number of Gardaí currently available for a special armed forces unit in Dublin following delays in training new members.

Multiple sources have said the city’s Armed Support Unit (ASU) is in dire need of more manpower after losing several gardaí in recent months.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents over 12,000 frontline members, has also said Dublin’s ASU is not operating at full capacity, calling it “concerning”.

About 10 Gardaí have recently left the unit due to transfers and promotions, and a few more are expected to depart in the coming weeks.

A competition was launched in late 2019 to attract more members to ASU, with around 80 people selected as part of the process.

While a small number of them have been trained, sources said there are not enough numbers to fill the current vacancies and the remaining Gardaí need to be trained as soon as possible.

Lately the focus has been on the introduction of armed units in other parts of the country including Donegal and Dundalk, whilst the Covid pandemic is said to have also caused delays in training.

Garda headquarters have stated that all suggestions that the 2019 competition was halted are wrong.

The manpower issue comes at a time of rising gangland tensions in the capital, including in Finglas following the gun killing of James Whelan earlier this month.

A source said some of Dublin’s armed units are currently operating about 25 per cent below what they described as “full cover” on certain days.

“Regular police duties are being filled with overtime to ensure an appropriate response across all six departments in the DMR (Dublin Metropolitan Region).

“It’s just the utmost at the moment and even with the number of Gardaí trained by the competition so far, it’s still not enough to close the gap.”

Ciaran O’Neill, the GRA representative for Dublin’s Harcourt Square, said: “The Armed Support Unit is there to provide an urgent armed response to support our frontline members when needed.

“It is of extreme concern to both gardaí and the public we serve that this unit is not operating at full capacity.

“There is now an urgent need for the members who have been successful in the recent recruitment process for ASU to be properly trained to provide proper support to our frontline members.”

It is understood the focus is likely to be increasing the number within Dublin’s ASU after regional units elsewhere in the country are prioritized.

Dublin’s ASU was first formed in November 2016 following a series of gangland killings linked to the Hutch/Kinahan feud and in response to the growing terrorist threat in Europe at the time.

It operates under the Special Tactics and Operations Command (STOC), formed in August 2017 on the recommendation of the Garda Inspectorate.

Routine policing needs of the unit including assisting local gardaí in enforcing warrants, high visibility patrols and responding to spontaneous incidents. Concern that the Garda armed support unit in Dublin is ‘not operating at full capacity’

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