Gardaí Peppered With New Weapon

Following the introduction of Tazer stun guns, a new weapon is to be introduced into the Gardaí's armoury, with an announcement that officers are to be issued with pepper spray canisters.

The move comes as the number of attacks on routinely unarmed officers continues to rise.

The Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern is expected to announce the supply of the less-than-lethal weapon to all uniformed and unarmed gardaí.

However, the Justice Minister has also said there are no plans to make the Gardai a fully armed force.

The number of attacks on unarmed gardaí is reported to have doubled between 2005 and 2007 before the Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy approved the move.

Pepper spray otherwise known as capsicum spray, or oleoresin capsicum spray irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness. It is widely used in western law enforcement agencies, especially in America.

The spray is not without controversy though, as the American Civil Liberties Union has been campaigning for a ban of the spray claiming there have been 26 documented deaths as a result of exposure to the spray.

The cost of the measure is estimated at around €250,000 and will come from the garda budget.

The Garda Representative Association has been campaigning for pepper spray to be made available to its members.

Its President, Donegal Garda Mick O'Boyce says it is proven to be a very useful depterent in dealing with public order situations.


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