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Written Answers. - Garda Transport.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 38. Mr. Costello Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the plans he has for the provision of reinforced Garda cars, especially having regard to the tragic death of two gardaí in a joyriding incident in Dublin earlier in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18491/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am advised by the Garda authorities that Garda policy is to put the health and safety of its members as top priority when purchasing vehicles. I am also advised that there are no plans to purchase patrol cars which are in any way modified from the vehicles supplied by the manufacturer as this could further endanger the vehicles' occupants as well as nullifying the vehicles' warranties. Interference with a vehicle's structure or design is not recommended and may cause serious problems with integral structural safety which has been designed into the vehicle to meet certain safety standards.

The Euro New Car Assessment Programme provides consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the safety of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. ENCAP was established in 1997 and is now backed by five European Governments, the EU Commission and motoring and consumer organisations in every EU country. ENCAP has rapidly become a catalyst for encouraging significant safety improvements to new car design. Cars are tested for frontal impact, side impact, pedestrian impact and head protection. Cars are rated and awarded scores for each test. Their overall rating is assessed from the scores – with cars being awarded a rating of from one to five stars.

Four vehicles, which have a five star ENCAP rating, have been purchased for use by the Garda Síochána this year for evaluation purposes. Research by the Garda authorities is also continuing into the safety features that are claimed by some manufacturers. The Garda authorities currently operate a fleet of some 89 four-wheel [1152] drive vehicles that are substantially stronger vehicles but are limited in operational situations particularly with regard to manoeuvrability.

I am further advised by the Garda authorities that the policy of the Garda Síochána is one of continuous research in its assessment of new vehicle purchases, especially having regard to the safety of its members. New vehicles are constantly assessed and all technical staff are familiar with the latest developments in motor vehicle technology, particularly those developments which will enhance the vehicles' safety.

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