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Gardai want their Uzis back

By Sean Lehane

The murder of a garda during the robbery of a credit union in January has led to calls for gardai to have the Uzi submachine gun - previously withdrawn from service - immediately reissued to detectives.

Garda sergeants and inspectors voted to seek to have the weapon reinstated.

A member of the AGSI national executive claimed that the murder of detective Garda Adrian Donohoe might have been prevented if he had been armed with the weapon.

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Detective Adrian Donohoe was shot dead during a robbery at a credit union in Bellurgan, near Dundalk, on January 25.

Delegates at the association's annual conference this week also rejected any further reductions in their pay and allowances and agreed to take action to oppose the cuts.

On Tuesday, delegates passed a motion calling on Commissioner Callinan to immediately re-issue the Israeli-made Uzi submachine gun to detectives. The weapon was carried by many detectives during the years of the Troubles.

The sergeants and inspectors agreed that the weapon acts as a deterrent because criminals and terrorists are afraid of it.

And garda anger is growing. On Monday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was confronted by an angry guard as he canvassed for the Meath East by-election.

During the emotionally charged meeting in a supermarket in Ratoath, the Taoiseach told the father-of-three he should contribute his fair share to recovery and he insisted all public sector workers would do the same.

"You're a guard, which is a very important job. You're an intelligent man. But what do you think is going to pay for the services that you need?" Mr. Kenny said.

The officer, who didn't give his name, said he should be compensated for the unsociable hours he works.

"I didn't cause this economy to collapse but I feel I'm being singled out. I'm being told that I have to accept this because of the state of the economy," the garda said.