Seven Gardaí killed themselves in Ireland over the last 12 months
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Seven Gardaí killed themselves in Ireland over the last 12 months

SEVEN Gardaí took their own lives in the last year, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said.

Det Gda Ciaran O’Neill, President of the GRA, revealed the figure at the GRA Annual Conference in Wexford today.

In a speech to Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, Det Gda O'Neill slammed the mental health assistance offered by An Garda Síochána to its recruits.

He said: “Commissioner, it is of concern to us to note that an independent clinical psychologist, Dr Eddie Murphy, has rated the Garda Welfare Service five out of 10.

“This is just not good enough. Seven of our colleagues took their own lives in the past 12 months and Commissioner, it is all our responsibilities to ensure that there are no more.

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"It’s time for us all to recognize that it’s ok not to be ok".

Det Gda O'Neill added: “Our job is unique and it does require the backup services to ensure that our members well-being is fully catered for.

"Our welfare service is stretched to the limits and replacements and additional staffing is taking far too long. Our Welfare Officers do not have the full supports they need to provide a proper service.”

PTSD survey

It comes after a new wellbeing survey carried out by Dr Finian Fallon from Dublin's City Colleges found that one in six frontline Garda officers may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Other concerns raised at the GRA Annual Conference included an overload of paperwork, unsociable rotas and a lack of pay.

Vice President Jim Mulligan explained that the job can have a long-lasting impact on Gardaí.

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"You can bottle these things up for years but they eventually get on top of you," he said.

"Even something like going to a road traffic collision if there's children involved, if there's somebody killed.

"The horrific, continued exposure to stuff like that does have an effect on you."

Dr Fallon said the counselling service currently available to Gardaí simply is not good enough.

"When I rang the counselling service I was told there was no one available at that time which I felt, in terms of a process of accessing counselling, is really not good enough for an organisation as large and as financially powerful as An Garda Síochána," he said.

"It's very important that people get quick access to treatment especially for PTSD as it has implications for suicide."