Justice Minister vows to ensure gardaí never need to take industrial action
JUSTICE Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he is working on removing any need for gardaí to take industrial action which he said would "jeopardise the security of the State" after the country's mid-ranking officers threatened to strike.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), which represents more than 2,000 mid-ranking officers, has warned that it is considering taking industrial action over the Government's refusal to grant it the right to strike.
The association's president Sgt Antoinette Cunningham said that AGSI has put the Justice Minister on formal notice in relation to the growing discontent around the issue.
“We would look forward to having discussions with the Minister for Justice around the strike issue as you know there was a ruling four years ago that recommended that guards should have the right to strike," Sgt Cunningham said.
"The Government have so far refused that right and recommendation and we need to progress this issue urgently. We must pursue legitimate issues that are important to our membership. We feel it is discriminatory to shut the door on this option. We want to have discussions around emergency cover where it can be provided and we don’t think that is unreasonable," the AGSI president added.
She was speaking at the association's 40th annual delegate conference taking place the Mount Wolseley Hotel in Tullow, Co Carlow.
In response to the strike threat, Minister Flanagan said that he is working on removing any reason for gardaí to take such action.
"I want to obviate any need, at any time for the gardai to deploy their right to industrial action which may jeopardise the security of the State or its people.
"I'm going to continue to work with An Garda Siochana to ensure that such a right is never deployed," the Minister said at the conference.
Addressing the issue surrounding industrial relations in his speech at the conference, the Justice Minister said it was in the best interests that gardai staying "within the framework of the public service pay agreements."
Minister Flanagan also discussed the issue around resources, and said that gardai need to be willing to embrace change.
"So we are spending the money to enable you to be the best. But being the best will, of course, involve a willingness to embrace change. I acknowledge that change brings challenges, but if a challenge is the challenge, overcoming it can be really satisfying," he said in his speech.