Monday 11 December 2017

Garda union at war over criticism of top officials

Pat Ennis: sought legal advice. Photo: Frank McGrath
Pat Ennis: sought legal advice. Photo: Frank McGrath
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A major row has erupted within the body representing rank-and-file gardaí after its senior management tried to block a series of motions ahead of the upcoming annual conference.

GRA general secretary Pat Ennis was incensed after members tabled motions directly critical of the organisation's leadership and of the manner in which last year's controversial pay deal was agreed.

GRA sources say the dispute, if unresolved, could result in this month's annual conference in Galway being postponed.

The row centres upon the decision by the GRA officer board - led by Mr Ennis and president Ciarán O'Neill - to consent to a derogation on November 4 during the middle of the industrial dispute.

The derogation agreed with Garda management would have ensured that 18 specialist units were on duty while the planned 24-hour strike went ahead.

According to both senior gardaí and Government figures, this would have ensured that the security of the State was not compromised and that significant policing cover was in place at all times.

A similar derogation was proposed on three occasions but rejected out of hand each time.

Members of the GRA's Central Executive Council (CEC) were not consulted over the move in advance and felt it significantly weakened their negotiating hand.

A subsequent €50m pay proposal by the Labour Court was overwhelming accepted in December.

The deal has had a profound effect on the Government's public sector pay policy and has led to the expedition of a successor for the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

But the tensions within the GRA have re-surfaced ahead of its conference in Galway later this month.

Up to four motions critical of the decision to consent to the derogation have been tabled.

Some motions demand that each member of the officer board address the conference over the move.

One motion is understood to have expressed no confidence in Mr Ennis, who is known within Garda circles to be close to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

Mr Ennis has sought legal advice and has told senior colleagues that he is prepared to apply for an injunction.

Irish Independent

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