Officers won't face sack over debts, insists Garda chief
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy insisted today that his cash-strapped rank-and-file will not be sacked if they cannot pay their mortgages.
Representatives of grass-roots officers have demanded an overhaul of rules in the Garda code which state members can be dismissed over mounting civil debts.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said many young gardai are seriously financially squeezed as they cope with public sector pay cuts, huge mortgage repayments and negative equity.
But Mr Murphy insisted it was "laughable" that he - or any future Garda chief - would dismiss a member because they were plunged into dire straits as a result of the economic crisis.
"That is laughable from my perspective," he said.
"What we are talking about there (in the Garda code) is people wilfully incurring debt in the full knowledge they are doing it dishonestly - not in terms of a recession when people unfortunately face circumstances where they can't pay their mortgages.
"So I want to put the lie to that comment."
Mr Murphy also hit out at GRA claims that financially-struggling officers could be vulnerable to corruption because they are barred from taking on certain part-time jobs.
"In my 40 years in the Garda Siochana, very few cases have arisen in relation to financial corruption by members," he said.
"It would be doing a disservice to our young people to say they are open to corruption."
At the GRA annual conference in Limerick, general secretary PJ Stone said international experience had shown low-paid forces are susceptible to "being got at".
The association, which represents almost 12,000 rank-and-file, has asked for a ban on officers taking on extra work, such as security, taxi driving and bar work, to be overturned.
But Mr Murphy insisted he would not support members taking on jobs where there was a conflict of interest, adding that the force has come through crippling recessions in the past.
"They are going through hard times," he said of his officers.
"So is everybody. We need to look to the future."
Last night, Mr Murphy ordered his officers to stay out of politics and focus on crime-fighting after outgoing GRA president Michael O'Boyce planned a blistering political attack on the Government.
A scripted address by Mr O'Boyce to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, which was pulled at the last minute, accused Fianna Fail in particular of "national sabotage" and protecting "economic traitors" at the expense of lower paid workers.
In an unprecedented snub, Mr Ahern refused to travel to the conference, and withdrew his officials, because of the remarks, which the GRA said had been sent to the minister last Friday.