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Wednesday 21 February 2018

GRA to consider Labour Court recommendation before garda strike

Pat Ennis General Secretary of the GRA, pictured during the GRA press conference at their offices in Phibsboro. Picture Credit : Frank Mc Grath
Pat Ennis General Secretary of the GRA, pictured during the GRA press conference at their offices in Phibsboro. Picture Credit : Frank Mc Grath

Kevin Doyle and Laura Larkin

It is understood that the recommendation from the Labour Court has been received by the GRA's executive committee who are currently in talks at their headquarters in Phibsboro. 

Sources have indicated that a meeting between GRA representatives and the Labour Court were "tense" in mood.

The Garda Representatives Association has this afternoon released a list of units that they will ask not to join in the action in order to provide cover.

This will “ensure a skeletal service to protect the security of the State, prevent and detect serious crime and preserve vital evidence,” they said in a statement.

Members of the following units or specialist roles are respectfully asked to respond positively to requests by management to fulfil or provide cover for their usual roles:

 

•         Emergency Response Unit [ERU]

•         Regional Support Units [RSU]

•         Garda Technical Bureau [Mapping, Fingerprints, Ballistics and Photographic Sections]

•         Critical Incident/Major Emergency response capabilities

•         Communications Rooms

•         Protection & Escort Personnel/Units

•         National Surveillance Unit

•         Static Protection Posts

•         Special Detective Unit

•         Intelligence Sections

•         Witness Security Programme Unit

•         VIP protection

•         Garda Drugs Organised Crime Bureau

•         Special Dedicated Embassy Patrols

•         Immigration Units

•         Forensic Collision Investigators

•         Attend to prosecutions in court

•         Student and Probationer Gardaí

 

The  GRA said the ongoing security of the State, protection of life and the gathering of evidence by these units is paramount and must not be compromised, despite the sense of anger, betrayal and disillusionment that resulted in 95% of the GRA membership democratically expressing their preference for industrial action.

GRA General Secretary Pat Ennis told  a press conference  "the vast majority" of rank and file gardai will be on strike tomorrow.

Asked what would happen tomorrow in terms of the garda response to telephone calls about public order problems on the streets or burglaries that were in progress, he said he "hopes there will be sufficient resources available."

He acknowledged it was "a regrettable situation."

Asked what would happen tomorrow "if things go wrong,' he replied "I hope they won't."

He said the officers of the GRA "respectfully asked" the members of the units requested to work as usual tomorrow to go to work tomorrow.

Mr Ennis said the GRA had received no request from the Labour Court to call off their action tomorrow.

The GRA never put a figure on the table in terms of pay of what would be needed to resolve the dispute.

He confirmed that the GRA had two meetings this week with the Garda Commissioner.

Mr Ennis said he could not reveal the numbers of gardai in the units working tomorrow "for security reasons."

"The preservation of life and the security of the State are of paramount importance. We have done everything we can over the last five weeks.

"We have engaged exhaustively in negotiations with a view to resolving this dispute and ensuring that the services can be maintained.

"As with any trade union, the provision of essential services is crucial and we aspire to those principles and insist on them.  That's the reason why we have respectfully asked our colleagues to facilitate requests to provide the necessary essential service," said Mr Ennis.

He insisted the garda strike was going ahead.

"Unless we see real and tangible clarification in relation to the issues of pay, which have been ongoing for a long, long time, that's the position," he said when asked if the strike was going ahead.

He said the members of the units that the GRA were requesting to work would be making individual choices about what to do but they were "respectfully asked in the interests of the public" to report for duty.

He confirmed the GRA had met the garda commissioner twice this week and "we have got a sense of the gravity and the terms of the limitations on the organisation to respond to the crisis."

He said "We have done everything we can from a negotiations perspective. And now, as any other responsible trade union, we're providing essential services."

He appreciated public concern about the need for responses to 999 emergency calls tomorrow.

"The units that we have released are designed to provide as much protection as possible in these circumstances," he said.

In terms of calls about public order problems or burglaries in progress, he said "In a situation like this, it is difficult when you have a withdrawal of service provision and we would hope there will be sufficient resources available in other aspects of the organisation to facilitate those queries.

"This is a regrettable situation.  We have been endeavouring to progress a solution for the post five weeks to avoid any risk to anybody."

AGSI president Antoinette Cuningham has returned to the Labour Court this evening but declined to comment to the media when asked if their return signalled a potential breakthrough or if the strikes were still going ahead.

Ciaran O'Neill of the GRA has said their central executive committee is on standby as the association returns to the Labour Court to hear a recommendation.

The committee has the power to suspend strike action if they wish tonight without balloting members.

He said their return to the Labour Court was a "welcome development" but he was not going to pre-empt proceedings this evening by commenting on whether the strike was likely to be called off.

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