Wednesday 7 December 2016

Furious row erupts at GRA conference over roster debate

Paul Williams

Published 28/04/2016 | 02:30

Dermot O’Brien. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin
Dermot O’Brien. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin

A major row erupted among the Garda Representative Association after the leadership was accused of being "disconnected" from members on the ground.

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At one stage a split seemed on the cards among delegates on the final day of the association's conference in Killarney, as members from three divisions tabled an emergency motion.

They demanded a debate that the Central Executive Council (CEC) was out of touch with the rank and file. The leadership was accused of ignoring the "elephant in the room" which was that the 70pc of members last week voted to reject a new working time agreement.

The CEC negotiated the new arrangements with Garda HQ and the Department of Justice over several months. The agreement allowed for a change in the rosters system, which has been described by the Garda Inspectorate as "unfit for purpose". The GRA leadership endorsed the new deal, and recommended that the country's 10,000 rank and file members voted to accept it.

However, in a shock result, the majority of gardaí - 68.8pc - voted against the proposals.

There were shouts of dissent when Dermot O'Brien, the outgoing president, said that standing orders did not allow for an emergency discussion.

The motion had been tabled by three garda divisions - Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim and Dublin South Central - who said the rejection of the rosters illustrated a disconnect between the CEC and the membership.

They claimed that the leadership had not appreciated the depth of anger amongst the officers on the ground. A number of delegates walked out before the decision was reversed.

Mr O'Brien said that the association needed to clear the air and move on, and urged the conference not to allow a split.

He said it would be hugely damaging for the welfare of the country's gardaí and that they had a much bigger fight ahead with the government on the issue of pay restoration.

Newly elected deputy president Detective Garda James Mulligan said: "We need to deal with it and move on."

One delegate later said: "It was right that the whole disconnect issue was discussed because it cleared the air."

Irish Independent

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