549. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to issue each front-line garda with a taser; the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25664/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that although the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the deployment of equipment to members of An Garda Síochána, where the Commissioner proposes to arrange for deployment of less-lethal weapons, including conductive electrical devices (CEDs, commonly referred to as Tasers), Ministerial consent is required, due to the fact that An Garda Síochána is primarily an unarmed force.
In line with the recommendation in the Garda Síochána Inspectorate’s 2007 report "Review of Practices and Procedures for Barricade Incidents", all members are issued with incapacitant spray (i.e. pepper spray) while other forms of less lethal weapons, including tasers and bean bag shots, are available to Garda specialist units.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that CEDs (tasers) are currently issued to members of the Emergency Response Unit and Armed Support Units, which are deployed regionally. Armed Support Units were established to provide an armed response capacity on a regional basis to support and supplement the national Emergency Response Unit. Members are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons and perform high visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout their respective regions.
Ministerial consent has not to date been sought for roll-out of CEDs outside the specialist units. In the circumstances, an estimated cost for the provision of CEDs more generally to members of An Garda Síochána is not currently available.