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Thursday 8 December 2016

Garda body and department keen to build on 'constructive' talks

Published 21/10/2016 | 02:30

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke

The latest talks between senior Department of Justice officials and leaders of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI)in a bid to avert strike action next month were last night described as "fairly constructive".

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Both sides are expected to try to build on yesterday's discussions at further talks today. It is understood that no significant progress was made on any individual issues.

But AGSI officers used the talks to tell the Justice Department why there had been such a dramatic change in their position over a three-week period.

Last month, the AGSI voted in a ballot by 70pc-30pc to accept the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

But at a special conference in Athlone, Co Westmeath, last Monday, 95pc of the delegates voted in favour of a campaign of action.

That action began at 7am today with a refusal to make entries in the Garda Pulse computer system.

The key reason for the about-turn in views was the reception that AGSI officials received at a meeting with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure on the proposed pay commission.

The Public Expenditure officials made it very clear, in undiplomatic terms, that there was no short-term gain for the AGSI members in the pay commission.

As one AGSI negotiator put it: "We would not be in the position we are today if that meeting had not been held."

Dispute

AGSI officers said it had to be seen as positive that further talks were being held today rather than waiting until the 11th hour.

"There is only one way this dispute is going to be resolved, and that is at the negotiating table," one source said.

After meeting officials, AGSI negotiators will talk with Garda management on contingency plans.

The Garda Representative Association has already indicated that its members in the Emergency Response Unit and the five Regional Support Units will be "respectfully requested" to turn up for work.

Meanwhile, members in the Technical Bureau will be asked to make themselves available on a call-out basis.

However, the AGSI decided to wait to hear what Garda management wanted from them for contingency plans rather than putting forward its requests to members.

The involvement of the AGSI in the strikes has ratcheted up the pressure on Garda management as its members are responsible for the supervision of Garda probationers and reservists if they are deployed.

Irish Independent

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