THE growing rift between the gardai and their political paymaster, Alan Shatter, looks set to worsen in the coming weeks.
An official statement issued by the central executive committee of the rank and file Garda Representative Association, after its two-day meeting in Dublin, reflects the depth of anger in its ranks over the fresh round of financial cutbacks threatened by the Government.
This was mainly a holding statement from the association's leadership as it awaits the outcome of a handful of branch meetings yet to be held around the country.
The announcement that the association has no confidence in the minister echoes the view of successive branch meetings over the past 10 days.
His failure to understand the financial plight of many gardai – evident in his public claim that there was no problem with morale in the force – threatens to bring the relationship between the two sides to a level that has not been seen since the blue flu campaign almost two decades ago.
Gardai have already taken a significant hit to their pay and many of them rely on their allowances, which have been built into their wages over the years.
Senior officers are giving their answer to Mr Shatter by resigning from the force. But younger members – and the majority of the rank and file have less than 10 years' service – do not have that option.
Their only alternative is to join others and travel overseas in search of employment.
If that is the route they choose to take, Mr Shatter will have no problems reducing the strength of the force to whatever level he wants but it will be a sad indictment of his treatment of the men and women under his command.