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Sunday 22 October 2017

'We’re angry... We’ve no alternative’- GRA chief on proposed garda strikes

Garda Representative Association members, including deputy president Jim Mulligan, acting secretary Donal Flannery, and GRA president Ciaran O’Neill, protest about garda salaries at Leinster House last month. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Garda Representative Association members, including deputy president Jim Mulligan, acting secretary Donal Flannery, and GRA president Ciaran O’Neill, protest about garda salaries at Leinster House last month. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Rank and file gardaí say they are aware of legal restraints towards gardai striking but said “they have no alternative”.

President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Ciaran O’Neill said: “It will be a unilateral decision for members to withdraw their services. That’s their decision. It’s an unfortunate decision that we have to make to withdraw services but that’s the path we’ve been led down.

“Our membership is angry. Our frustration is at a high level. Morale is at an all time low and we’ve exhausted the industrial relations mechanisms available to us and they feel that they have no other action,” Mr O’Neill told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Mr O’Neill said he wants Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan to tell the Minister for Justice  Frances Fitzgerald “to give a pay rise”.

“It’s up to the Commissioner to come up with a contingency plan. I think the Commissioner should contact the Minister and say these people need to be paid and have their pay restored to them.”

Mr O’Neill said gardaí do a “different job” to other workers under the Lansdowne Road agreement and should be “excluded” from it.

Garda Representative Association President Ciaran O'Neill
Garda Representative Association President Ciaran O'Neill

“We are different, our role is unique and there is a mechanism that excludes us from that.”

He said gardaí need to ensure “personal protection” on a daily basis.

“I have to protect members of An Garda Síochana when they’re looking for a pay rise. They’re telling us this is what they want to do.

“The €4,000 rent allowance is coming in at a phase basis. That wasn’t acceptable to the membership. The increment is only affecting a certain amount of the membership. The majority and I’d nearly say 100pc of our membership are looking for pay restoration and that wasn’t included in the pay agreement.”

He said “Lansdowne Road is not acceptable to our members”.

“Congress set out that there was four days of Industrial action. If there is no movement unfortunately that might continue.

“Our role is to service and protect the community. We’re looking for the same rights as everyone else but be paid properly for the job that we do.”

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