GRA snubs Shatter again after vote of 'no confidence'
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has not been invited to attend the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) for the second year in a row.
The decision was taken by the association in line with a vote of "no confidence" in the minister in February of last year.
"That vote has not been rescinded since – and if we continue to have no confidence in him, we cannot invite him to the conference," an association source said last night.
Earlier this week, the minister declined to address the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Killarney, Co Kerry, citing the Jewish Passover.
His non-appearance disappointed delegates, who pointed out that the justice minister had attended their conferences every year since the association was formed in 1976.
The sole exception was in 1998 when the minister could not turn up because the Good Friday peace talks were close to a successful completion. But on that occasion the Government sent the agriculture minister instead.
However, last Monday there was no government representative delegated to attend the conference and hear the views of the association's president, Tim Galvin.
During the early days of his tenure as Defence Minister, Mr Shatter also missed a number of military representative conferences – but the Government was represented by the junior minister and chief whip, Paul Kehoe.
Mr Shatter has had a testy relationship with rank-and-file gardai in the past, and the decision to exclude him from the guest list for this year's conference, due to start on Tuesday week, is evidence it has not improved in the past year.
The tone for this year's conference has been set by a hard-hitting editorial in the association's magazine 'Garda Review', which called for an end to political interference in the force's promotion system.
The editorial claimed that gardai were being promoted because of social or political connections rather than selecting "the most natural leaders".