Australia to lure poorly paid gardai
Salaries Down Under now top €51k
The Australian police force are luring newly qualified gardai with competitive salaries, generous annual leave, and a fast-track process to citizenship.
As anger mounts among rank-and-file members over poor pay, there are fresh fears some of our new recruits will be tempted Down Under, with salaries of up to €51,243, and six weeks' annual leave.
Over 25,000 Irish people now live in Western Australia - among them are dozens of former gardai, working in the largest police district in the world. In 2013, the Western Australian Police force conducted a hugely successful recruitment drive in the UK and Ireland, seeking serving gardai with between three and seven years' service.
Garda sources here insist the lure of better remuneration and conditions in other English-speaking countries will tempt growing numbers of recruits to test their luck abroad, unless pay improves.
Gardai start on a salary of €23,171. In contrast, new recruits in the Western Australian Police start on €36,178.
After just 18 months, an Australian police officer on 'probation' earns €48,097.In year three, this jumps to €49,798 - while 12 months later it stands at €51,188.
In the fifth year, and thereafter, police officers earn a salary of €52,587. In addition, they enjoy six weeks' annual leave, 14 weeks' paid paternity leave, as well as free or subsidised housing in certain locations.
In Ireland, it would take a rank-and-file member of An Garda Siochana 19 years to reach the maximum basic pay grade of €45,796.
Meanwhile, it is has emerged two recently recruited gardai have already quit and moved to "another jurisdiction" because they couldn't survive on current pay levels.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, the vice president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Ciaran O'Neill, said it is "natural" that serving gardai would be attracted to better pay overseas.
However, it has also been claimed that serving as a police officer in a vast jurisdiction such as Australia has its downsides for those stationed in remote areas outside of the major centres of population.
It is understood this is one of the reasons the Australian authorities have pursued a recruitment drive in the UK and Ireland.
"It is a concern that we're spending a lot of money training people for them to get a job in another police force," said Mr O'Neill.
"In Australia they consider our gardai to be highly trained. But we want to train them to work in this country. However, if we don't pay them properly, we're going to find it hard to keep them.
"There's also the incentive of citizenship over there if you become a police officer. Gardai already have a skill set that can be utilised to fast track them into a promotional system in Australia, where credit is given for their service back in Ireland.
"If a more attractive alternative comes up, naturally it will incline gardai away from a career in this country."