Belfast Telegraph

Garda chief was in PSNI car damaged by bollard

Commissioner Drew Harris
Commissioner Drew Harris

By Robin Schiller

Police on both sides of the border have said normal procedures were followed during a security alert at Garda headquarters involving an unmarked PSNI vehicle carrying the Garda Commissioner.

Commissioner Drew Harris, a former Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, was being escorted in a joint Garda and PSNI convoy from Northern Ireland when it was damaged by a security bollard.

A vehicle in the convoy being driven by members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit gained entry to the Phoenix Park complex. However, an officer on duty at the gate pressed an emergency button when he saw the unmarked Range Rover with Northern Ireland registration plates carrying the Commissioner approach.

Sunken security bollards were raised from the ground following the alert and the PSNI vehicle collided with them, causing damage.

There were no injuries during the incident on March 25.

The PSNI said: "We do not comment on operational matters.

"However, where PSNI and An Garda Siochana carry out any operational activity in either jurisdiction it is within the law and with full permission and knowledge of the host service."

The Garda issued a near-identical statement, adding: "Both An Garda Siochana and PSNI are content normal procedure was followed."

The episode has raised questions as to why the Commissioner was being driven from the border to Dublin by close protection officers from Northern Ireland.

Sources said that the PSNI is regularly involved in armed escorts with Mr Harris from Northern Ireland, but that this escort is usually taken over by the Garda at the border.

Sinn Fein TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire said the Garda needed to clarify the situation.

"My understanding is that, contrary to standard procedure, Commissioner Harris did not change between PSNI and Garda vehicles at the border and continued to Dublin from the North in the PSNI vehicle," he said.

"This raises a series of questions about why standard procedure was abandoned, whether the gardai on duty at the Phoenix Park were informed of this and if not, why not?"

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