Gardai won’t back down in protest over pay talks
PROTESTING gardai have said they have no option but to hold peaceful demonstrations until progress is made over pay talks.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has accused police of damaging the reputation of the force.
Mr Shatter claimed PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representatives Association (GRA), was grossly misleading the public and the 11,300 officers he represents by claiming that the organisation was never part of negotiations nor could influence their outcome.
Mr Stone said: "Until such a time where a positive development is given due consideration, our members have no other option but to register their anger and frustration through legitimate peaceful placard protest and the turning off of the goodwill tap that has sustained the force through a period of under-resourcing."
The minister and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have both reiterated pleas for the GRA to take part in the Croke Park talks with other public sector bodies.
But Mr Stone said: "It is disingenuous of the minister to talk about our members re-entering talks when he knows full well that we have always been excluded from the main pay talks.
"It would be more constructive if common sense were allowed to prevail, and a new mechanism is established where policing and issues of garda morale could be discussed in a meaningful and fruitful manner."
In a new low for strained Government-garda relations, Mr Shatter has claimed the association's anger has moved to public protest and industrial action and could discredit the force.
Under the rules of the force, gardai cannot be granted trade union status or form a union, and officers take an oath not to engage in strike.
GRA members showed their anger against any cuts by withdrawing what they described as "goodwill work practices" from yesterday by refusing to use their own cars, phones, computers and cameras for police work.
They have also delivered a vote of no confidence in Mr Shatter, Mr Kenny and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.