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Saturday 17 March 2018

'Do your duty' - Garda chief's strike warning

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: Gerry Mooney

Anne-Marie Walsh, Tom Brady and Kevin Doyle

The Garda Commissioner has put her authority on the line by telling thousands of members of the force to ignore plans for a strike and turn up for work.

Nóirín O'Sullivan warned gardaí they risk irreparably damaging the authority of the force as she cancelled leave, and ordered them on duty.

But she risked a furious backlash from members of the force with the stark eleventh-hour intervention.

Hopes of averting strike action now hinge on last-minute talks at the Labour Court today. The court may ask the association to suspend industrial action before it will issue a recommendation on the dispute.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner wrote to every member after both the Garda Representative Authority (GRA) and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) rejected pay deals from the Government.

Sources said her next move may be to threaten disciplinary action against those who fail to report for duty. She will first assess reports from local management on the numbers likely to show up for work, to see where the biggest gaps will be.

Sources said the latest developments had thrown gardaí into deep turmoil as they prepare for the first strike in the history of the State. The letter ratchets up an already deeply divisive dispute over pay restoration and equal rates for newly graduated officers.

"I believe that in the event that the proposed course of action takes place, it may irreparably compromise our authority to police the State. In addition, it will negatively impact on public confidence in An Garda Síochána and jeopardise the respect in which An Garda Síochána and each member of the garda organisation is held," the garda chief said.

The letter contained no indications about possible sanctions for officers who do not meet her demands to report for duty.

But Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald directly warned that officers who do not turn in will not be paid and could face sanctions.

Irish Independent

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