Renua Ireland leader and Offaly County Councillor, John Leahy has called on Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to respond to the alarming psychological stress being experienced by members of An Garda Síochana.
"An alarming amount of suicides, possibly as high as five have occurred within the force in the last year," Cllr. Leahy told us.
"The Gardai are too often seen as the enemy by the media and political class who are only interested in failure. Renua Ireland by contrast believes it is time we protected the protectors," he added.
He went on to state that "our priorities for Garda internal reform includes developing a comprehensive welfare response fit for purpose for the unique difficulties Gardai face."
"This should include a radical reform of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, Peer Support, Bereavement Counselling and Self Care Education," Leahy added.
"We also need to ramp up the Garda Employee Assistance Service to support them in managing and resolving personal and work-related difficulties."
"It is important to note that despite all of the press negativity the vast majority of Gardaí are civic pillars who are far too often left to face difficult, dangerous and tragic situations."
"They are the social cleaners who must resolve murders, rapes, violent acts of burglary, road accidents, suicides, domestic violence and family law rifts."
"These engender unique pressures that may not be ordinarily felt in many other professions, or places of work."
"No other worker gets up early in the morning facing into the threat of assault and battery. No other worker puts on a stab and ballistic proof vest, checks their defensive weaponry and then heads of to their job in the hope that they will come home that evening or morning," Leahy continued.
"Given what we ask the Gardai to do we have a moral responsibility to defend the defenders. No Guard should be left feeling like an island. The Gardaí are the last line between us and chaos."
"We have a clear responsibility to protect our protectors and afford them the same protections we would any other other employee in the land.”
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