Union asks 10,000 gardaí if they're ready to strike
The body representing the country's 10,500 rank-and-file gardaí will hold a secret ballot to see if they are willing to take industrial action over pay - despite them being legally restricted from going on strike.
A letter from the Garda Representative Association (GRA) to its members yesterday denounces the "deplorable failure" of their "political masters" to deliver on their commitments by "imposing" the Lansdowne Road Agreement on gardaí.
It was sent in the wake of a government freeze of garda increments last month for refusing to sign up to the deal that would mean gardaí having to work an extra 30 hours a year.
The letter, from the general secretary of the GRA, Pat Ennis, said members must now decide how they wished to proceed.
"For strategic reasons, we are unable to publish or print our plans, so these will be disseminated verbally through our network of GRA representatives and through open meetings - if and when the need arises," he wrote.
"In the meantime, every member of the Garda Representative Association will be asked by way of secret ballot to indicate if he or she is willing to take part in a day(s) of industrial action.
"I ask you to persevere again with the solidarity and unity shown to date which gives us a semblance of power in the industrial-relations landscape.
"If we remain resolute and determined, then together we can, and will, prevail."
Members of the association have already warned that they will refuse to co-operate with the Garda Commissioner's new modernisation plan.
Sources said the letter represented an escalation of the dispute.
They said that although section 59 of the Garda Síochána Act prohibited anyone from encouraging a garda to withdraw their labour, including the GRA, a "grey area" surrounded whether it was unlawful for individual members to withdraw their service.
The sources added that there were "other avenues open" in terms of action.
The GRA wants a review of pay and conditions which was promised under the last public sector agreement before it will sign up to the Lansdowne Road deal.
It has also demanded a timetable for the restoration of pay cuts.