Thursday 18 October 2018

Infighting erupts at 'bizarre' GRA meeting as bosses furious over 'leaks'

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Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Bitter infighting has engulfed the body representing rank-and-file gardaí with senior figures lashing out at media "leaks" which they claim are damaging the organisation's reputation.

At a "bizarre" and "tense" meeting of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), bosses claimed they can no longer air their views at meetings for fear they will be leaked to journalists.

At one stage, it was suggested that a "stenographer" should be drafted in to ensure there were proper records of meetings that took place at the GRA headquarters in Phibsboro.

It was also suggested that legal action should be considered against journalists who have reported on meetings of the GRA central executive council.

A potential "boycott" of RTÉ was also discussed on the back of last month's infamous exchange between GRA spokesman John O'Keeffe and the broadcaster's crime correspondent Paul Reynolds.

During the interview, Mr O'Keeffe claimed repeatedly that gardaí were pressurised by their senior colleagues to "elevate" breath test figures.

The GRA has written to RTÉ to complain about the manner in which the interview was conducted.

Audit

The RTÉ interview and various other alleged media leaks dominated discussions at the GRA's monthly meeting.

Members also expressed concern after being told that an audit into the spending of thousands of euro on holiday vouchers had been delayed.

The audit will state the GRA's general secretary Pat Ennis received vouchers worth €1,500 that have since been refunded.

A number of other officials are believed to have received vouchers and have been contacted by the association's treasurer to provide an explanation.

Sources say the audit will find that at least €14,500 was paid out in unsolicited holiday vouchers.

The matter is due to be investigated by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In a statement in response to questions from the Irish Independent, GRA president Ciarán O'Neill said: "These questions are all internal matters for consideration by the GRA central executive committee."

Separately, the GRA will on Friday make public the results of the ballot of members in relation to the new Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The GRA has recommended that the proposed pay deal be accepted by members.

Irish Independent

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