Justice 'not concerned' as garda chiefs hold private talks
The Department of Justice is not concerned about a secret meeting held by six of the most senior members of An Garda Síochána, the Irish Independent understands.
Six of the force's seven assistant commissioners met in private last week to discuss forming a united front on a number of issues facing the upper ranks of the force.
The talks were not aimed at challenging Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan's leadership; rather, they focused on forming an association to represent their rank.
But the unprecedented meeting is likely to present difficulties for Ms O'Sullivan as she seeks to overhaul the force after it was shaken by numerous scandals last year.
However, the Department of Justice is not concerned about the meeting, a senior source said.
"If they want to meet, let them meet. We are not concerned about the meeting," the source said, adding that the minister will not be taking any action on the matter.
The six senior officers met last Friday in a hotel in Portlaoise, and further talks are expected to take place.
They hope to form a representative association similar to organisations representing lower ranks of the force.
The assistant commissioners argue that civil servants of a similar ranks and senior officers in other police forces have more bargaining power at pay talks.
They also believe their pay has fallen bellow civil service rates with which they were traditionally linked.
Another issue is the legal action taken by Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning, who was not at the meeting, which is stopping the appointment of two deputy commissioners.
The investigation into a senior garda, who was authorised to speak with the press, over allegedly leaking information to media, is also causing major unease among all ranks.
The force last night sought to play down the significance of the meeting, saying it was not secret and insisting the assistant commissioners meet privately "from time to time".
"The commissioner and her senior management team meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of policing, security of the State and other matters," a spokeswoman said.
"The commissioner continues to be available to meet the assistant commissioners and discuss any issues."