Leo Varadkar Scares Coalition Colleagues Witless By Backing Idea Of Armed Gardaí

Leo Varadkar

Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have ruled out arming rank-and-file gardaí after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he would back an armed force if Garda Commissioner Drew Harris requested it.

Weekend comments by Mr. Varadkar drew the ire of his fellow Government leaders, coalition TDs, and Garda representatives, who made it clear there’s no appetite for such a move.

In the wake of a spate of attacks on gardaí, including a vicious assault on two officers in Dublin, the Tánaiste was asked if he thought the State needs an armed force. He said he would say “absolutely yes” and would not block a move to arm gardaí if asked by Mr Harris.

When asked if the Garda rank-and-file should be armed, Leo Varadkar said it’s “very much a decision for the Garda Commissioner“, Drew Harris, rather than a politician, the Irish Mail on Sunday reports.

If the Garda Commissioner did ask him or the Minister for Justice to arm Gardaí, the Tánaiste said “I certainly wouldn’t do anything to block that if he felt that was the right approach.”

The Tánaiste hit out at what he called “really appalling” scenes when two Gardaí were attacked in Ballyfermot in Dublin last week week.

The Tánaiste also told the Mail on Sunday that he was worried about the perceived rise in street violence.

He said that, while the figures don’t show a spike in incidents, he acknowledges that “people don’t feel as safe on our streets, and even in their homes as they did previously“.

We have a responsibility to make sure that they do.”

The Tánaiste wants body cameras to be rolled out for members of An Garda Síochana as soon as possible.

Legislation allowing for the use of such devices is expected before the Oireachtas in the coming weeks; however, concerns remain over privacy and their effectiveness.