Thursday 29 September 2016

Howlin to intervene in row on overtime for gardaí

Niall O'Connor and Tom Brady

Published 06/11/2015 | 02:30

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has asked her Cabinet colleague Mr Howlin to intervene in a bid to resolve the row
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has asked her Cabinet colleague Mr Howlin to intervene in a bid to resolve the row

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has been asked to intervene in a row surrounding working conditions in An Garda Siochana, as officers threaten to turn down overtime offers from January.

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The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said its members will refuse to work an additional 30 hours that was initially imposed on the force under the previous Haddington Road Agreement.

The trade union last week overwhelmingly rejected the new public sector pay deal, known as the Lansdowne Road Agreement, because it involved a continuation of the additional 30 hours per year.

Unless the additional 30 hours is removed following a review, officers will be advised not to volunteer for overtime.

But it has now emerged that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has asked her Cabinet colleague Mr Howlin to intervene in a bid to resolve the row. The decision was communicated to GRA members in an internal memo, seen by the Irish Independent.

"The GRA delegation advised the minister of all of the discussions that took place on the Lansdowne Road Agreement. We further advised the minister that the question of working additional hours for free was no longer an option," the memo states.

Mr Howlin spearheaded the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which has been accepted by the majority of unions. It's understood he is due to meet senior GRA figures later this month to discuss their concerns over the 30 additional hours.

As revealed by the Irish Independent yesterday, the GRA met with Ms Fitzgerald in Leinster House and a series of issues relating to the force were discussed. These included garda resources, morale within the force and rural crime.

The GRA warned Ms Fitzgerald that communities are seriously suffering as a result of the rural crime crisis.

Ms Fitzgerald was also told that soaring insurance costs have emerged as a major factor behind the epidemic.

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A growing number of families whose homes are targeted by burglaries are failing to report the crimes for fear of the impact it will have their premiums, according to the GRA.

Aside from insurance costs, the GRA told Ms Fitzgerald that crime victims are also failing to report incidents because they no longer have immediate access to their local garda as a result of cutbacks.

The meeting was attended by GRA president Dermot O'Brien, vice president Ciaran O'Neill, general secretary PJ Stone and deputy general secretary John Healy.

Sources described the meeting as "amicable" and "open" and said Ms Fitzgerald also expressed concern for members on the ground on the back of the brutal murder of Garda Tony Golden in Dundalk last month.

Irish Independent

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