'Poor wages for gardaí could lead to increase in corruption'
A Garda Sergeant who will retire this month has said that poor wages for gardaí leaves the door open to possible corruption in the force.
Sgt John O'Dwyer, who is based in Kells Garda station, Co Meath, said that he has seen first hand the hardship young recruits on low salaries endure.
"I know gardaí who have only got through Christmas with the help of St Vincent de Paul," he said.
"I've had gardaí coming to me crying because their mortgages were due and they had no heating because of delayed payments. We also have members depending on family income supplement.
"No police force should be dependent on St Vincent de Paul or social welfare to make it through life - this is creating a situation which could facilitate corruption."
Sgt O'Dwyer will reluctantly retire from the force this month and he has called for the compulsory age of retirement to be increased.
He believes the force is losing valuable expertise because of the rule which means gardaí of all ranks have to retire before 60 years of age.
The Clonmel native said he raised the issue with the then Minister of Justice Frances Fitzgerald at an AGSI conference in Meath two years ago.
"I was informed by the then Minister that it was being examined but that it was across Government departments and required agreement of the cabinet," he said.
Sgt O'Dwyer has to retire on November 15 - the day before he turns 60 - after almost 34 years of service.
"Many gardaí are now starting later in life because you're eligible to enter the Garda College up to the age of 35.
"So unless the retirement age is extended to 65 they will not be able to achieve the required service of 30 years and benefit from full pension," he said.
"I love my job, I'm proud of my job and I'm proud to wear the uniform. I would have liked to stay on but I now know that is not possible because of current rules.
"There are a lot of other sergeants and inspectors and even higher ranks, with the same frame of mind, who would like the option to stay on. On November 15, I'll be fit for purpose and the next day, I won't."