Written Answers. - Garda Complaints.

Tony Gregory

Ceist:

245 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Garda authorities have received serious complaints from the Croke Park Residents Alliance regarding the behaviour of gardaí towards local residents on 21 June 2003 in the environs of Croke Park; the Garda response to these complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18962/03]

I am sure that the Deputy will agree that the Garda Síochána contributed greatly to the planning and smooth running of the 2003 Special Olympic World Summer Games and that its involvement reflected great credit on the force. The Deputy's question refers to complaints from the Croke Park Residents' Alliance regarding the behaviour of gardaí in the environs of Croke Park on the occasion of the opening ceremony. I am informed by the Garda authorities that gardaí at Fitzgibbon Street station were responsible for the policing of the opening ceremony which attracted a crowd of more than 70,000 spectators and involved 7,000 athletes. I am also informed that in preparation for the event, two meetings were held with the Croke Park Residents' Alliance – an umbrella group of seven local residents' groups – to brief it with regard to the Garda management plan and the proposed restrictions that were to be put in place for the event. In addition, three newsletters were distributed including advice on parking arrangements and the level of restrictions being imposed and outlining the necessity for residents to carry the correct identification when seeking entry at the cordon points.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that one complaint was received on 21 June 2003 regarding entry inside the cordon by a local resident and that the problem was quickly resolved. On Tuesday 24, June 2003, an inspector from Fitzgibbon Street Garda station met the Croke Park Residents' Alliance. A spokesperson for the residents' alliance had a general complaint – with no specifics – of residents being stopped at the Garda barriers. In response, on Sunday, 29 June 2003, the superintendent of Fitzgibbon Street Garda station invited a spokesperson for the residents' alliance to attend the briefing for the main Garda party who were due to go on duty for the closing ceremony. During the course of this briefing, all members were reminded of the necessity to employ tact and common sense while dealing with residents who were not in possession of identification for whatever reason and they were instructed to call a sergeant if necessary to resolve any matters that might arise. I understand the spokesperson for the residents' alliance was satisfied and acknowledged the fact that gardaí had been properly instructed and that a considerable amount of planning had gone into, and was in place, for these events.