Sunday 24 September 2017

GRA sticks to position on denying invitation to Shatter

Justice Minister Alan Shatter says garda representative bodies have lost their way
Justice Minister Alan Shatter says garda representative bodies have lost their way

Fergus Black

RANK-and-file gardai are to stick by their decision not to invite Justice Minister Alan Shatter to attend their annual conference next month.

In the wake of the disciplinary row which saw four garda sergeants pledging their full support for the garda commissioner, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) insisted that an invitation had not been issued to the minister and that its position had not changed.

"The decision still stands and was made prior to the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) conference and the way the situation developed at that conference shows it was the right decision," said GRA president John Parker.

"We have never closed our door to any situation but there is no sign of anything being done to deal with resources for the gardai and to sort out our members' problems."

This will be the first time that any garda representative group has not invited a justice minister to an annual conference since their formation in the mid-1970s.

When Michael McDowell held the portfolio, he was not invited to address the GRA's conference but he was asked to attend a dinner at the event.

Disciplinary

The GRA has yet to decide whether Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan will be invited to the conference in Westport at the end of the month.

"That is a matter that will be dealt with by our executive but no decision has been made regarding that issue," said Mr Parker.

The ongoing row with the minister comes against the backdrop of the AGSI conference after four garda sergeants were threatened with disciplinary action after they walked out on the commissioner and said they had lost confidence in him.

Following marathon talks with garda authorities at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, the four sergeants pledged their full support for the commissioner.

But their association leader John Redmond made it clear that the representative body remained at odds with Mr Shatter.

As the GRA prepares for its own conference, Mr Parker said there was "sheer and utter frustration" in the garda ranks over their pay, conditions and resources, with no attempt being made to repair or boost garda morale.

"A lot of the feedback I am getting over the last number of weeks is one of utter frustration among members. How do you deal with that in a conference situation?" he asked.

Irish Independent

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