Garda Regional Support Unit

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Garda Regional Support Unit
Aonad Tacaíochta Réigiúnach
Abbreviation RSU
Agency overview
Formed 2008 (pilot), 2012 (full)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Republic of Ireland
Legal jurisdiction Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions
Governing body Department of Justice and Equality
General nature
Operational structure
Operators ~ 120[1]
Agency executive Regional Detective Superintendent
Parent agency Badge of An Garda Síochána.gif Garda Síochána
Specialties Specialist armed response
Vehicles Volvo XC70 Armed response vehicle

Regional Support Units (RSU) (Irish: Aonad Tacaíochta Réigiúnach) are specialist armed response units of the Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland. Based in five regions in the country, Garda RSU officers carry a combination of lethal firearms and non-lethal weapons, as opposed to regular uniformed Gardaí who are unarmed. They are similar to Authorised Firearms Officers of British police forces.


An armed Garda Regional Support Unit may be called out to support local Garda officers in certain high-risk operations.[2] This principally involves offering armed assistance to otherwise unarmed Gardaí who are dealing with an incident in which firearms or other weapons (knives, etc.) have been produced. It also includes;[3][4]

  • Confronting and disarming persons who were carrying knives or guns
  • Saving a person's life through use of a defibrillator which they are qualified to use
  • Providing tactical support to other gardai carrying out searches
  • Carrying out high visibility static checkpoints and other operations to counteract the movements of criminals[5]


The first Regional Support Unit (RSU) was formed in 2008,[6] followling the recommendations of the Barr Tribunal, which brought the existence and role of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to public attention (April 2000, see Death of John Carthy), and questioned the Dublin based units' ability to reach other areas of the country quickly.[7][8]

Regional Support Units are assigned to support five individual Garda regions - administrative areas drawn on geographical lines which include the Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions, but not the Dublin Metropolitan Region, which remains the responsibility of the ERU.[9] The first RSU was formed on a pilot basis in the Southern Region (the administrative area which includes counties Cork, Limerick and Kerry).[6][9]

As of 2012, RSU units began operating on a full-time armed basis in the Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions after a trial period.[10][11][12][13] Serious incidents such as barricaded sieges, hostage takings or terrorism triggers the response of the ERU anywhere in Ireland.

Training and manpower[edit]

Garda RSU officers undergo training over a thirteen week period, which includes instruction in:

Some RSU officers later go on to join the ERU. The membership of the Regional Support Unit consists exclusively of serving officers in the Garda Síochána, who must have at least 4 years experience and a clean disciplinary record.

There are Regional Support Units in five regions, each has at least 24 members, putting the overall manpower at more than 120.[8] The command of the RSU is the Regional Detective Superintendent.[6]



Members of the Regional Support Units are equipped similarly to members of the Special Detective Unit (SDU) and Emergency Response Unit.[6][14]

RSU weapons include;

RSU units also carry less-lethal weapons, such as;


Regional Support Units use a police variant Volvo V70, known as a Volvo XC70 as their Armed response vehicle (ARV). These cars are specially modified[8] and clearly identifiable from other Garda vehicles by battenburg markings, the word "GARDA" written in large blue letters, and the words "ARMED SUPPORT UNIT" in red lettering.[14] Each car has a blue bar light on the roof with a message scroller bearing the term "GARDA ARMED SUPPORT UNIT".[14] Volvo V70 T5 vehicles and armour plated BMW X5 vehicles are also in use.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]