Belfast Telegraph

Garda killers 'should receive life'

Rank-and-file gardai are demanding mandatory life sentences for anyone found guilty of killing an officer.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) will make a direct appeal to Justice Minister Alan Shatter this week to bring in new laws allowing stiffer penalties for attacks on the force.

Damien McCarthy, president of the association, said increasing violence against gardai requires police protection measures similar to those in Britain and the United States.

In particular, he called for anyone convicted of the manslaughter of a garda to be "dealt with by the most severest of penalties".

"An attack on a member of the Garda Siochana has to be treated differently," he said. Mr McCarthy said the death of Garda Robbie McCallion, 29, after being hit by a car while on duty in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, two years ago had struck a chord with the force's grassroots.

A 19-year-old man, Jamie McGrenaghan, of Gortnatraw, Kerrykeel, Co Donegal, who was trying flee a garda roadblock at the time, was acquitted of the manslaughter of Garda McCallion, and was jailed for six years for dangerous driving causing death.

The GRA president said the judge in the case, John O'Hagan, was forced to stick rigidly to the existing law when instructing the jury to consider their verdict.

Mr McCarthy said juries should be allowed to take into consideration when a victim is a member of the force and that sentences should be more harsh.

Mr McCarthy will call on Mr Shatter to examine changes in the legislation on Wednesday during the GRA annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo.

Officers are being subjected to increasingly vicious attacks on a daily basis, he said.

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