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Monday 19 March 2018

Rank-and-file gardai have 'serious exchange of views' with commissioner

PJ Stone (right) leads members of the Garda Representative Association from talks with the Garda Commissioner
PJ Stone (right) leads members of the Garda Representative Association from talks with the Garda Commissioner
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

THE Garda Commissioner has been urged to tell the public that adequate policing cannot be delivered within Government budget cuts.

More than 11,000 rank-and-file gardai will stage a form of action from this Friday when they refuse to use personal cars, phones or laptops for official use.


PJ Stone, of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), denied officers are breaking the law by the move, which he maintained would not disrupt policing.


But he revealed there had been a serious exchange of views during talks on garda cuts with Commissioner Martin Callinan, who they believed was moved by some of the information he heard.


"It is not going to disrupt policing. It is merely intended to show that we're serious," said Mr Stone, GRA general secretary.


"That there will be an incremental approach to any visit on the pay and conditions of members of An Garda Siochana.


"I think it's very unfair, we have members who when they retire do not enjoy the same longevity of life as others simply because they're working nights and weekends and it is grossly unfair that in the discussions that are taking place currently that people are going to reduce those earnings."


Mr Stone accepted gardai are paid by the Department of Justice, but said the commissioner should tell the public that resources are limited.


"The Government have already left the commissioner short in this year's budget for the payment and provision of wages, so it baffles us when we hear from the Garda Commissioner about the adequate resources that's available to him," Mr Stone said.


"I think the commissioner accepts fully that he has to operate within the budget that's made available to him.


"But we also made the point that if that budget does not allow for the proper provision of policing services that perhaps that's what should be said so the people can be aware of it."


The GRA said the commissioner said he would reflect on that.


Mr Stone also disputed "the notion" that the GRA pulled out of talks on an extension of the Croke Park agreement earlier this month, adding it was only a briefing session and that it was never involved in pay negotiations.


"The key players who are down there now negotiating on behalf of the Garda Siochana do not have the authority, in my view, to reach agreement in respect of our pay and conditions of employment," he added.


Mr Callinan agreed to meet the GRA national executive at Garda Headquarters after a vote of no confidence in Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who has appealed for them to re-enter pay talks.


In a statement, the commissioner said he listened carefully first hand to the concerns of its membership.


"I reminded those present of how conscious I was of the fantastic work that was being done on a daily basis by the members of An Garda Siochana, and that I hoped nothing would be said or done to interfere with the public support we enjoy in fulfilling our statutory obligations to provide the best possible police service to the communities that we serve," the commissioner added.

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