Republic of Ireland news

Drew Harris urged to 'clarify' reports he was in PSNI 4x4 crash at Garda headquarters

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was reportedly travelling in an unmarked PSNI 4x4 when it crashed into a security barrier at Garda Headquarters in Dublin. Picture by Liam McBurney, Press Association

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris should “clarify” reports he was travelling in a bulletproof PSNI 4x4 which was flung into the air after an emergency security barrier stopped it from entering Garda headquarters in Dublin, a Sinn Féin TD has said.

Mr Harris, a former senior RUC and PSNI officer who is now the Republic’s most senior garda, was understood to have been in an unmarked PSNI vehicle when it hit a barrier at Phoenix Park last month.

According to reports, a garda on security did not recognise the vehicle and pressed a button which activated security bollards. 

The bollards damaged the bottom of the 4x4. No-one was injured.

Belfast-born Mr Harris, whose RUC superintendent father Alwyn Harris was killed by the IRA in 1989, was thought to have been travelling back from Northern Ireland on official business on March 25 when the crash happened.

Under normal procedures, he travels with armed PSNI officers to the border where he is picked up by a Garda car escorted by the force’s emergency response unit (ERU).

It is understood that on this occasion he was met by a Garda ERU vehicle but stayed inside the PSNI 4x4. The vehicles then drove in convoy to Dublin.

The 4x4 is thought to have been badly damaged in the collision at Garda headquarters.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on operational matters.

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

“Both PSNI and An Garda Síochána are content normal procedure was followed.”

A Garda spokesman confirmed an “incident” had taken place but said the force would not comment further for “operational reasons”. 

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire called on Mr Harris to “clarify the circumstances” surrounding the crash.

“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 gardaí on duty at the Phoenix Park were informed of this and if not, why not?

“The Garda Commissioner, when he is travelling in the south, should be travelling in Garda vehicles and we need to know why he wasn’t on this occasion.

“Any security issue such as this at Garda headquarters is a cause for serious concern.

“I would call on him to immediately make a statement and clarify this matter.”

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