Gardaí accuse top brass of bullying members of force

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Tom Brady

Mid-ranking gardaí have accused the force's senior management of bullying some of its members.

And they said they can no longer accept the practice of "one-man patrolling" saying that, in some instances, inexperienced gardai are being asked to drive up to 30 miles alone from a station to answer a call.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) accused Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan of failing to deliver on promises to end bullying and reform welfare issues.

It said it is a disgrace that a review of the force's policy on bullying has not yet been completed, even though it started five years ago.

Deputy AGSI general secretary John Jacob said: "Members of sergeant and inspector rank have been, and are, the subject of bullying in some cases by senior management."

And he said six members of the Garda organisation had died by suicide in the past 12 months. But a proper welfare service, available on a 24/7 basis, was still not in existence, despite the Commissioner issuing an undertaking at the annual conference last March.

He said the association regretted having to speak about such issues in public but said there was deep worry that people who worked in highly stressful conditions were not given access to a professional service.

Mr Jacob warned that his association could no longer accept one-man patrolling, saying, "gardaí are husbands and wives, brothers and sisters" and this was a "dangerous practice".

He also claimed that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had failed the association by playing politics with gardaí's right to negotiate their own pay following a breakthrough decision by the EU's social rights committee in 2014.

He said the minister had also promised that a review of the force under the Haddington Road agreement would be completed in June 2014 but this had not been delivered.

Mr Jacob said the AGSI had advised garda management that it cannot endorse proposals for internal dispute resolutions until the Haddington Road review had been concluded.

Members around the country had expressed their "complete dissatisfaction" with the inaction of the Government and the Commissioner, he said.

He said they would try to ensure that any action taken did not have an impact on the public.