Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I'll probably go back to Tesco... and I'll be better paid too' - Three newly qualified gardai have quit force over low pay

Cathal McMahon

Published 22/03/2016 | 19:11

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Three newly qualified gardai have already resigned from the force due to low wages, a new survey has revealed.

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Officers have told this month's edition of the Garda Review that they have been “recruited into poverty”.

Over 24,000 people applied for the garda posts when they were announced in January 2014. But the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has revealed that three of the elite few who qualified from Templemore have already quit because they couldn't live on the wages.

The new officers have a starting wage of €23,171 - significantly less than their colleagues who qualified before the recruitment freeze.

Many more new members have also threatened to quit with one saying they would be better off "stacking shelves in Tesco".

GRA vice president Ciaran O’Neill  said: “The new question is now whether these members will remain within an Garda Siochana with many contending that the ‘two-tier’ pay structure has ‘recruited them into poverty’.

“From the new entrants, three have resigned so far. All are citing financial reasons, it is unprecedented. They have all gone to better-paid jobs.”

Read More:  Lack of resources helping dissidents, warn gardaí

GRA vice president Ciaran O’Neill
GRA vice president Ciaran O’Neill

Mr O’Neill, who regularly liaises with the new entrants who have joined An Garda Siochana since 2014, asked them to submit feedback of personal circumstances and financial pressure as a result of the low pay.

In total 685 recruits have qualified and a further 150 are in training at Templemore College in Tipperary.

The magazine carries 15 first person accounts of the daily struggles of a new recruit. The stories are anonymous to protect the identities of the gardai.

One 25-year-old officer told the magazine that he had applied for family income supplement from the Social Welfare “as we earn so little”.

“I cannot afford medical aid or any other health insurance, and we need some kind of insurance in this job.”

Another newly qualified officer told how he dreamed of being a garda for the majority of his life but is now considering leaving.

The Dublin based officer explained how he has been forced to live on just €100 a week for food and savings after paying all his bills.

“I may have to abandon my dream job and find another job due to the circumstances that have arisen from pay-scale, rent allowance and taxation issues.”

Many of the officers told how they were stationed many miles from their homes and now struggle to pay for transport.

One wrote: “I live in Clonmel and commute 220 km in total everyday to Wexford. It’s an hour and a half journey each way; so on top of a 10 hour shift I’m driving for three hours.

“This is costing over €100 per week in diesel which is a lot considering the wages we are on. Also being away from home for 13 hours a day means that during the six working days I barely see my son.”

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Another officer wrote: “On a daily basis I hear of their struggles in paying mortgages and how they do not earn enough for the dangers of the job. This makes me wonder is my life really worth €23,000 per year. Why should I stay in a job where saving money is more important than me going home at the end of the day?”

One officer explained that he will have no option but to quit if pay increments are frozen.

"It is despicable that I would be better off on the dole. On the positive side, I enjoy the job and I am proud that I have managed to help people who have been in despair on occasions.

The officer added: "It is rewarding when you make a difference to some people’s lives. It’s just sad now that I will probably have to go back to working in Tesco near home, stacking shelves and making very little difference to anyone - and unfortunately I’d be better off too.”

The garda press office declined to comment on the article.

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