Gardai vow to ramp up work-to-rule campaign
GARDAI have vowed to ramp up their campaign of no co-operation with overtime at major public events – including the forthcoming rugby clash with France and massive St Patrick's Day parade.
If the dispute over pay continues, then gardai will need to be drafted from elsewhere to cope with major events – including the possibility of bringing in officers from around the country.
However, this will mean that other areas in the country are left with less manpower.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is heaping pressure on the Government over a perceived injustice in the way its members are being treated. The GRA walked out of talks on Croke Park II before a deal was struck last week. Now gardai are also threatening to step up their protests by stopping the issuing of fines for motor tax offences.
Garda refusal to issue motor tax fines might be extended to include fines imposed for other motoring offences and for illegal parking.
While it is understood officers will continue to prosecute drivers who speed or are involved in dangerous driving, gardai are entitled to use their discretion when dealing with motorists guilty of minor road traffic offences.
Members already refused to volunteer for "non-public overtime" work at Croke Park for the weekend GAA match between Dublin and Mayo, which was attended by 21,000 fans.
But the protests will ramp up significantly at next weekend's Six Nations clash and the St Patrick's Day festivities a week later.
Thanks to 'The Gathering' the Dublin parade this year is expected to shatter the attendance record of 550,000.
Pressure on policing in the capital will be at breaking point if gardai refuse voluntary duties and non-public event overtime.
"Non-public overtime" involves policing being subsidised or entirely paid for by the event organisers. It usually arises from sports events, concerts and festivals.
GRA members refused to volunteer for this type of work at Saturday night's National Football League clash.
Garda chiefs insisted that there was sufficient cover for the GAA match with 87 gardai inside and around the stadium.
The normal quota of gardai also failed to volunteer to assist with Munster's Pro12 clash with Ospreys at Thomond Park in Limerick.
Gardai had to be assigned to the fixture from other duties amid fears the quota of officers would fall below required levels.
Major concerns are now focused on St Patrick's Day which requires major policing in the capital and beyond.
Parade officials in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford last night said they were as yet unaware of any policing issues. But if the dispute continues, policing will have to be provided from other garda rosters, raising fears of a lack of manpower.
Traffic management duties will not be impacted as these are considered to be roster work.
Ahead of that is Ireland's Six Nations clash this weekend with France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin as well as a busy schedule of Football Association of Ireland (FAI) matches over coming months.
The France match will attract a capacity 50,000 crowd and if gardai refuse to volunteer for duties inside the stadium, officers will have to be assigned for duties from across the Dublin and Leinster division roster.
The targeting of matches and public events was described as "a deliberate response" to Government attempts to fragment the Frontline Alliance.
Deals have been hammered out with both prison officers and firefighters – but this sparked fury among unions representing gardai, nurses and paramedics.