The guards are fed up with rhetoric, whitewash and bamboozlement - all they want is a fair deal
The mood of trepidation and anxiety at the prospect of a Garda strike is palpable. Regardless of the outcome of the talks under way in the Labour Court in an attempt to avert a strike, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, the Garda authorities and - most particularly - the general law-abiding public have all been left understandably fearful at even the prospect of being left to the mercy of criminals.
From virtually any standpoint, leaving the country without police protection and security is a high-risk strategy that could have dramatic and unforeseen consequences for both the gardaí and the law-abiding citizens of this State. For the elderly, the anxiety is particularly acute.
During my 40 years as a member of An Garda Síochána, tough times were encountered. We lived with low pay, high taxes and poor conditions while the ever-present threat of terrorism, subversive activity and armed crime were just some of the challenges that had to be confronted. The rank and file faced them down with considerable success. I can say without hesitation that in all those times, the issue of middle-ranking members of the force going on strike or 'withdrawing labour' was never countenanced. Because it is not in the collective culture of the gardaí to engage in such action. That is why the overwhelming support for this strike clearly demonstrates that something is fundamentally amiss in the Garda organisationally and/ or in the way it is managed.