'The public deserve a service - the public deserve the matter to be settled' - AGSI
Gardai cannot fully concentrate on serving the community if their energies are focussed on "fighting for basic rights", the AGSI President has said.
For the first time in its 38-year history, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) is holding a Special Delegate Conference in Athlone today to discuss "industrial relations proposals" after talks to restore pay and obtain direct pay negotiations "have failed to produce meaningful results for the association's 2,000 sergeants and inspectors," according to a statement by the AGSI.
"I think it comes back to what Government want to do. There's been a clear signal of intent from the GRA and AGSI will have position by this afternoon," AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham told RTE Radio 1 this morning.
"The responsibility then turns back to the Government as it's a very very serious matter.
"It is incumbent on the Government to sit up and stop making false promises and actually have some proper action and some proper guidelines for the gardai to operate their negotiation procedures under and let us move on with the business of what gardai should be concentrating on which is serving the community and not concentrating on these arguments constantly.
"The public deserve a service - the public deserve the matter to be settled. They deserve a police force who are valued within the community and a police force who will give them what they require. When you are putting all your energy into fighting for basic rights that every other citizen in this country has, then you cannot put your energies into what you should be doing - and that's a matter for Government to address."
Ms Cunningham has previously said: "All options for industrial action will be looked at as the time for talking has now passed and members are seeking action on pay."
An AGSI spokeswoman last night confirmed that possible strike action has not been ruled out as 151 members of the association meet to discuss industrial-relations issues.
These include pay restoration of 16.5pc, access to direct pay negotiations with the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court on future pay deals and other issues.
However, the burning issue of possible strike action may well be on the cards after 10,500 members of the Garda Representative Association this month voted overwhelmingly in support of what is effectively strike action, even though gardaí are legally disbarred from striking.
The GRA is gearing up for a massive "withdrawal of service" over four 24-hour periods next month, from 7am to 7am on four Fridays.
"The long and winding road of pay talks has led us to nowhere and in fact we are no further forward today than we were four years ago when we started this process," Ms Cunningham said.
She described mid-ranking gardaí as being "disillusioned but resolute" in their quest for better pay.
"We have been taking the temperature of members for the past number of months and I can honestly say I've never seen men and women in our 31 branches as motivated to take action on their pay," she said.