Gardaí say that they cannot rule out a civil emergency, because of a failure of computer systems in the run-up to the new millennium. However, they say that their plans to cope with the various problems that may arise are well advanced. In addition, all Garda leave has been cancelled from 6 am on Thursday 30 December until 6 am on Tuesday, 4 January.

The suspension of leave has been announced as Garda planners prepare for, what they believe, will be the largest party ever held. Every street, village, town and city, they expect, will celebrate the arrival of the new millennium in some way or other. To cope with the revellers,

Initial predictions are that 75% of Garda personnel will be required for duty on New Year's eve and New Year's morning when, it is estimated, up to ten times more people than usual will be celebrating. The Gardaí stress that it is not possible to predict with any degree of accuracy what the impact of the so-called Millennium bug will be on computer systems. However, they say that they are very conscious of the possible civil emergency that could be created by a computer systems failure in any critical organisation providing essential services.

Assistant Commissioner Dick Kelly, chairman of the Garda Millennium Policing Committee, said that they were working with the local authorities and health boards in revising and testing the major emergency plans in each area and were happy with the progress being made.