Sunday 24 September 2017

Now garda anger grows as pensions take the hit

Cuts to allowances will impact on final salary when officers retire

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

GARDA fury over cuts to pay and resources has been compounded by losses they will sustain when they retire –because allowances that have been cut form part of their final pensionable salary.

An analysis of the arcane and complex range of allowances – which are mostly pensionable – shows why both the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors have clashed with Justice Minister Alan Shatter and the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

ANALYSIS PAGE 23

While special allowances in the private sector rarely form part of the final pensionable salary, there is a different regime in the public service.

Since the foundation of An Garda Siochana, a bewildering array of more than 100 allowances and payments has been introduced on top of basic pay. About half of these are pensionable but many of the key allowances are not –including bigger payments, such as rent allowance.

Gardai argue that while other public servants are entitled to 50 per cent of their pay as pension, gardai get just 40 per cent of theirs. They also refer to the unusual 24/7 nature of their job.

Among the allowances that have already been subject to the pension levy are the annual rent allowance, which used to be set at €4,229 but was cut to €4,017 in 2010.

This allowance is paid to all members of the force, up to and including chief superintendent. It was introduced because gardai are expected to serve anywhere in the State at the behest of the commissioner and therefore require rented accommodation.

Other allowances that have been cut include the clerical allowance, down from €5,033 to €4,781 per annum.

This is paid to members on clerical duties but also to members on the force who are asked to take on special designated posts. This refer to roles which a civilian would be unable to fulfil, including cash escorts, prison vans and other escort duties, including court protection.

The clerical allowance is a way to compensate gardai for the loss of other allowances, particularly the payments for working unsocial hours.

Further cuts to allowances mean that gardai are now among the worst-affected public sector workers, the GRA and AGSI have claimed.

Even the delegate's allowance, which is payable to all ranks and starts from €34.57 a day but rises sharply for the upper ranks of gardai, has been cut.

The allowance is paid for a garda who is on duty abroad, representing the State at an official function as part of a delegation to the EU or other international organisation or with representatives of other governments.

Meanwhile, an agreed statement was released on Friday after a crisis meeting that lasted over six hours, involving senior gardai and the four garda delegates at the heart of last week's controversy.

The statement said: "The four representatives of Kilkenny-Carlow branch of the AGSI indicated that they meant no offence to the commissioner. They personally have full confidence in the commissioner of An Garda Siochana. The commissioner enjoys the full confidence of (AGSI)."

It added: "The speech by the garda commissioner to conference and his comments on the RTE News at One were particularly helpful and magnanimous and have reinforced the excellent relations between AGSI and senior garda management.

"Members of AGSI will never shirk their responsibility to either the garda commissioner or members of the public. The representatives of the Kilkenny-Carlow branch regret that this whole matter has been played out on TV and in the public arena."

AGSI said that while it did not agree with the walkout, it believed it was "outrageous" that members of a staff association would run the risk of being disciplined for staging such a protest.

Irish Independent

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