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Third armed Garda unit to operate in border area from Monday

Announcement: Drew Harris
Announcement: Drew Harris

By Tom Brady

A new Garda armed support unit will become operational along the border from Monday.

The delay in setting up the unit has been a key part of the criticism of the perceived lack of resources allocated to gardai in the border divisions in light of the growing terrorist threat from dissident republicans, the security fallout from a hard Brexit and last week's savage attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney.

This will be the third armed support unit (ASU) to be located on the border and it will be based in Cavan.

The existing units are located in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, and Dundalk, Co Louth, and it is intended that this move will fill the gap in armed back-up in the region.

Announcing that it would become operational on Monday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said yesterday that an extra 20 gardai from the next class to graduate from the Garda College would also be sent to the Cavan-Monaghan area.

But he denied there was an imbalance between the additional resources being allocated to Garda chiefs on the border and the response from the PSNI.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said he was putting an extra 190 officers along the border.

Commissioner Harris, a former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable, said that over the past two years the number of personnel assigned to the border region had increased by 150, and 600 new gardai were emerging from Templemore (training college) this year, bringing the overall strength of the organisation, including civilian staff, to 15,000.

Meanwhile, the headquarters for the border region as a result of a shake-up in Garda structures will be located in Co Galway, it was announced yesterday.

From a base in Murrough, the assistant commissioner for the north western region will be responsible for an area stretching up to the top of Donegal and across to Louth, with a regional chief superintendent based in Monaghan.

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