Sunday 26 March 2017

Justice Minister appeals to gardai to stay with industrial relations system

Ms Fitzgerald also backs new public pay assessor

Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald today appealed to the two garda unions not to turn away from the industrial relations process.

The Tánaiste again expressed confidence in chairman of the new Public Service Pay commission, Kevin Duffy, in spite of his controversial comments about a potential “garda mutiny” and also reference to “illegal” strike action threatened earlier this month.

Mr Duffy’s comments, at an industrial relations conference on Thursday, enraged the leadership of two garda representative bodies. They also came just as gardai are balloting on a Labour Court award which averted the first of a series of national strikes on November 4.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said they were withdrawing from the Public Service Pay Commission’s opearations. The other body, the Garda Representative Association accused Mr Duffy of showing “bias against gardai.”

But Ms Fitzgerald said Mr Duffy should continue to lead the pay commission.

“He is the very best person to lead this process,” the Minister said.

She urged gardai to see the comments in their entire context, and stressed that Mr Duffy had also paid tribute to the force’s work and contribution to Ireland.

The Justice Minister said the Government had just agreed that gardai should have full access to Ireland’s industrial relations machinery. She said it would be a pity if they did not fully avail of this.

Ms Fitzgerald was also asked about comments on the shortage of judges by Circuit Court president, Judge Raymond Groarke. He said it was impeding the courts’ work and denying people access to justice.

The Minister again insisted that there was no government decision to freeze all judicial appointments until a new system to appoint judges is put in place.  But the Independent Alliance in the Coalition says it has got an arrangement not to fill any judges’ jobs until a new law regulating appointments is operational.

“I’ll be reviewing what Judge Groarke had to say. Access to justice is extremely important,” the Minister told reporters. She added there would be no undue delay in appointing judges.

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