Wednesday 22 February 2017

'We were left with broken promises,' says AGSI president

Published 18/10/2016 | 02:30

AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham pictured alongside Solicitor Michael Hegarty (Smyth, O'Brien, Hegarty Solicitors) and John Jacob General Secretary following the AGSI vote at the Special Delegate Conference for a withdrawl of labour at the Sheraton Athlone. Pic Steve Humphreys
AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham pictured alongside Solicitor Michael Hegarty (Smyth, O'Brien, Hegarty Solicitors) and John Jacob General Secretary following the AGSI vote at the Special Delegate Conference for a withdrawl of labour at the Sheraton Athlone. Pic Steve Humphreys

The decision of the leadership of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) to withdraw labour will come as a surprise to those not monitoring the noises from the supervisors over the past six months.

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As the Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald pointed out last night, it was only seven weeks since their membership voted to accept the Lansdowne Road Agreement by a majority of over 70pc.

This time there was no ballot held among the members. So what has changed within this normally staid and conservative group of mid-ranking officers?

The key moment that changed things came at a meeting with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure three weeks ago, when they learned that they were not going to be part of a public sector pay commission.

"All we were left with were broken promises," AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said.

Read more: Garda sergeants and inspectors to join strike

The mood within the membership darkened dramatically.

After this meeting, the AGSI leaders studied the successful pay claims of other public sector workers and compared the outcome to their own four-year process, which they admit has so far resulted in failure.

The militant feedback from the grassroots of the association necessitated holding a special conference.

Even after 95pc voted in favour of withdrawing labour, there were clear signs that the association had not dug itself into an entrenched position.

Ms Cunningham is anxious that the AGSI should continue to engage in talks and will attend a meeting with Justice officials this Thursday.

The AGSI is correct in its view that there is a lot of public sympathy for their plight.

But that sympathy could be tested in November.

Irish Independent

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