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Monday 20 August 2018

Garda chiefs threaten to boycott interviews as pay row escalates

'Chief Superintendents play a highly important function in the promotion of middle-ranking officers, which includes the rank of sergeant and inspector' (stock photo)
'Chief Superintendents play a highly important function in the promotion of middle-ranking officers, which includes the rank of sergeant and inspector' (stock photo)
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Senior gardaí are threatening to cause serious disruption to the promotion of middle-ranking officers as their pay dispute with the Government escalates.

The Irish Independent can reveal that the country's chief superintendents are considering a boycott of the Garda sergeants' competition panel.

Chief Superintendents play a highly important function in the promotion of middle-ranking officers, which includes the rank of sergeant and inspector.

Read more: Explainer: Everything you need to know about the latest pay row to hit gardaí

The senior officers are responsible for interviewing candidates seeking promotion, and they sit in on the second round of the interview process.

Any decision to boycott such a process would create major problems for Garda management.

Well-placed sources have revealed that superintendents - who are also on industrial action - are considering stepping up their campaign.

Boycotting Gsoc investigations and refusing to attend certain key meetings are being considered.

Central to the Garda pay row is what senior officers say is an anomaly. They argue that when an officer is promoted from inspector to superintendent, they suffer a pay reduction of €4,000-€6,000.

Superintendents and their bosses say they received assurances in a "side deal" struck in November 2016 that this discrepancy would be resolved.

However, months later, they have now effectively pulled out of the new Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Surprise

The re-emergence of the pay row has caught senior Government figures by surprise. There are fears at senior Government level that any decision to appease gardaí could cause a ripple effect.

Sources say that removing the anomaly in question, which is central to the row, would cost the State €1m a year.

Superintendents also claim to have twice been refused access to the Labour Court - despite previous assurances from Government that access would be extended to all gardaí.

The organisation also said it was under the clear understanding that the deal struck by other Garda unions, the GRA and AGSI, in November 2016 would also apply to its members.

Read more: Top gardaí take industrial action in the latest pay row to hit force

The deal brokered at the WRC averted strike action that the Government feared could have had untold consequences.

But after a series of interactions with the Department of Justice, superintendents say the Government has not honoured its side of the agreement.

The dispute was the subject of discussions between Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in recent days.

The head of the superintendents body Denis Ferry has publicly said that he is keen to meet with the Government to find a solution. The chief superintendents body, led by Fergus Healy, has sought an intervention by Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin.

Irish Independent

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