Gardai vote for abolition of 'mollycoddled' Reserve
FULL-TIME gardai have called for the Garda Reserve to be abolished.
And they have suggested the money saved from winding up the volunteer force should be spent on providing an adequate in-service training programme for gardai.
Delegates at the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) yesterday overwhelmingly backed the motion.
The association has been consistently opposed to the Reserve since it was established by then Justice Minister Michael McDowell in 2006. It is concerned that one of the motives behind its creation was to use the part-timers as substitutes for fully-trained gardai and believes this diminishes the effectiveness of the force.
The conference heard how gardai had to "baby sit" and "mollycoddle" the reservists while working alongside them on the streets.
GRA central executive member John Brosnan, from Meath division, said the use of untrained and unpaid volunteers to take the place of their members was undermining An Garda Siochana, even though they had been promised by Mr McDowell that this would not happen.
Delegate Peter Devine, also from Meath division, claimed the authorities were working towards reaching the established maximum strength of 1,400 personnel in the Reserve, although the numbers in the full-time force were continuing to fall rapidly. There are now around 800 reserve gardai.
He said the public were being conned into thinking they were getting two full-time police officers when they sought garda assistance during an incident.
Instead, one full-time member was being deployed and they had to "baby sit" a reservist, who was also sent to the scene.
He said the garda commissioner had been quite vocal recently in support of recruitment for the Reserve.
He told the conference he would like to hear the commissioner being equally vocal in calling on the Government to lift the ban on recruitment to the full-time force.
Yesterday Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he was very supportive of the Garda Reserve and it should not be seen as a threat to the force. "The reservists are there to assist and they are doing a very good job," he said.
He said his understanding was the reservists worked well alongside the full-time members. He added reservists would be able to help out with policing duties generally, while thousands of full-time gardai were deployed on the visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama.
However another delegate, Mick Egan, from Kilkenny/Carlow division, said the concept of a reserve force was not working and it was giving a wrong impression to the public.
He believed the Government should abolish it.
The conference also backed a demand for an end to high-speed pursuits of speeding vehicles until the regulations governing the involvement of the drivers of official squad cars were changed.
Association treasurer Dave McMahon, from Kerry division, said their members were being investigated by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission for their involvement in high-speed pursuits and some had ended up in the courts.
Thankfully, in the most recent case the gardai had been acquitted of the charges, he said. He added there was a need for the regulations to be clarified before gardai could continue with the pursuits.