This is a shameful way to treat our police force
Published 08/01/2013 | 05:00
ON Saturday the Irish Independent disclosed the Government's sneaky plans to cut the strength of the garda force by not providing the money to pay them.
Today, the full extent of their underhand plotting has been revealed.
The Government initially signed a deal under the national recovery plan (2010-2014) to bring down garda numbers from 14,500 to 13,000.
In the run-up to the publication of the departmental estimates, senior politicians sat back and said nothing as Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan explained in an address to an Oireachtas meeting at Leinster House that while he did not have the required number of retirements to meet the 13,000 target by the end of 2012 he was satisfied it would be reached this year.
The commissioner also outlined how he believed that dropping below that figure would negatively impact on policing and his strong desire for the immediate start to a recruitment campaign because of the two-year training programme for new recruits.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter and his colleague in Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, remained silent. Instead, they privately agreed to slash an extra €35m from the garda payroll, which meant there was only enough money to pay 12,000 members – and decided that the garda authorities could find out for themselves.
Mr Callinan and his closest advisers remained in the dark until the figures were published.
Now urgent talks are taking place between senior officers and officials from three government departments to work out alternative ways of getting rid of the unwanted personnel. It's no way to run a government department.
And it's certainly no way to treat a police force that has served the people well since its foundation.
Mr Shatter has a reputation for not being too bothered whether or not he makes friends. But after a while that can quickly turn into boorish behaviour which, in his unique position as holder of the Government's two security portfolios, can also become dangerous.