Garda top brass more interested in corporate image: AGSI

AGSI president Tim Galvin has criticised Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / PhocusEuropean

Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan

thumbnail: AGSI president Tim Galvin has criticised Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / PhocusEuropean
thumbnail: Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan
Tom Brady

Garda supervisors have accused their commissioner of being more interested in the corporate image of the force than in the welfare of her members.

The mid-ranking gardaí claimed that Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan had ignored the results of their survey, showing 86pc of members felt that morale in the force was low or very low.

And they said their treatment by the Government had only increased that problem of low morale within the organisation.

The president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Tim Galvin, said the association had submitted the results of the morale survey to the Commissioner last December but had heard no response from her since.

"We think the Commissioner is getting her priorities wrong", Mr Galvin told his association's annual conference in Westport last night. "She should be looking after the people who work for her, not the corporate image, which is the way the job seems to be gone."

The poor morale is also being linked to growing frustration in the force at the failure to restore pay rates to pre-recession levels.

Delegates will be asked today to back a plan to march on the Dáil in uniform on the first day of the new government in protest at inadequate pay and conditions.

If the proposal is passed, it will mark the first occasion that gardaí have worn uniforms during protest demonstrations.

Seasoned delegates said last night they were satisfied that this would not breach the garda regulations and they intended to seek the support of rank and file members of the force, as well as retired colleagues.

"It is very sad that we feel we have to resort to marching in uniform, but it appears nobody wants to listen to gardaí talking about their pay," one delegate said.

Mr Galvin said gardaí were different to other employees.

"We wear body protection and some of our members are armed in response to the changing demographic of our society.

"The impact of gangland criminals and their ability to arm themselves has only heightened the dangers associated with being a member of the Garda.

"We work with ballistics vests, stab vests, ASPs, pepper sprays. Nobody else in the country works with that equipment."

Gardaí were now working 10-hour shifts without a break because resources were short and they were constantly out on the street, call after call, Mr Galvin said.

They were physically shattered when they ended their six shifts and saw no compensation for what they endured, he told delegates.

Mr Galvin said they felt that the Commissioner was not standing up for the people on the frontline and highlighting the lack of resources.

Since 2008, said Mr Galvin, his members had suffered cuts averaging 25pc to their wages. A review of pay was supposed to have been completed by June 2014 but a lack of progress had tied their hands as representatives.

General secretary John Jacob will today outline the results of a survey showing that 93pc of members want to take work-to-rule action in order to support their claim for pay restoration.