Shatter calls on gardai to accept reserve force
Minister criticises vote for abolition
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter last night urged rank-and-file gardai to drop their five-year campaign of opposition to the Garda Reserve.
He said gardai should encourage the part-time volunteers and recognise the role they played in policing the community.
In a strongly-worded comment at the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association in Westport, Co Mayo, yesterday, Mr Shatter said he was disappointed to read about the conference vote calling for the abolition of the reserve.
He said full-time gardai were concerned when the reserve was being established in 2006 that it would interfere with recruitment and prevent an expansion of the force.
But the strength of the force jumped last year to almost 15,000 at one point, a substantial increase since 2006.
The minister said he supported the reserve. "I would have hoped that such voluntary, communal and committed support would have been welcomed by members of the force."
The minister pointed out that what was originally the FCA and now known as the Army Reserve was unequivocally valued as a key component of the Defence Forces.
"Our part-time soldiers participate in training operations and are treated with respect by members of the Defence Forces," he said.
"A similar respect and welcome should be given by the gardai to the Garda Reserve."
He regarded the abolition vote at the conference as counterproductive. "It has the potential to sour relations between the two," he said.
Mr Shatter also revealed new legislation to tackle white-collar crime would be published around Easter.
In relation to the introduction of police bail, he said it was not intended to hold suspects for longer but would allow the clock to be suspended and the suspect released on bail while gardai could carry out further inquiries.
He told delegates the "rape tape" remarks, concerning gardai on duty at the Corrib pipeline protests were offensive and wrong.
But he was also disappointed at the attempts by some involved in the Corrib dispute to exploit the incident with the aim of undermining trust in the gardai.