Thursday 8 December 2016

€200 ‘thank you’ voucher for GRA spouses returned in row

Laura Larkin

Published 21/12/2015 | 11:08

Garda: File photo
Garda: File photo

At least one member of the Garda Representative Association’s executive committee has said he declined a controversial €200 voucher offered to spouses of committee members as a “Christmas thank you”.

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In an email, seen by the Herald, a committee member said that he has already returned the voucher sent to his partner.

The voucher, which has been sent to spouses and partners of the 31-member executive for at least the past eight years, has caused anger among rank-and-file members of the GRA this year.

Anger

“I must acknowledge that this proposal has caused a great deal of upset and anger amongst the membership,” the email read.

“However, I am not attempting to absolve myself of responsibility and can confirm my spouse will not benefit from this payment, as it has already been returned,” it continues.

Among divisional members there was “no illusion as to the amount of anger that this proposal has caused”, the Dublin GRA member also said in the email.

The vouchers were discussed at a recent meeting of the executive committee, but the Herald understands that not all members were present at the time.

A spokesman for the GRA was not able to confirm if any of the vouchers, which were sent out last week, had been returned, or how that would be managed.

The association is standing by its decision to send the vouchers to those who are in a relationship with members of the executive committee as a festive gesture.

Guidelines

“Everyone’s entitled to their own views,” the spokesman said when asked about the member who has said his partner will not accept the gift.

“This €200 voucher was paid as a thank you to all the spouses and partners of the unpaid committee members who often work on their rest days, days off, weekend and are often on the phone.

“It’s a thank you and a mark of the esteem in which the association holds those partners for supporting them.

“A voucher of €200 was sent out last week to all spouses and partners, it’s happened every year for some considerable time and it’s within revenue guidelines for a once-off annual gift,” he added.

When asked if there was a procedure for dealing with returned vouchers, the spokesman said that he didn’t know how that could be monitored.

“I’m sure over the year people do all sorts of things but we wouldn’t necessarily monitor that or make an account of it, why would we? It’s a thank you at Christmas for those reasons,” he said.

All members of the GRA executive are rank-and-file gardai, and they perform their duties with the organisation separate to their salaried work with the force.

The committee is made up of gardai representing all divisions across the country.

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