'We do a horrible job – then struggle to make ends meet'
Yvonne Hedderman was among gardai protesting at proposed cuts to their premium pay outside the Taoiseach's office.
Originally from Dublin and living in Kildare, the 32-year-old said she struggles to meet her mortgage payments.
The garda is single, she bought her house nearly 10 years ago and is paying around €1,400 a month. She says this is more than she can afford.
"I don't have a family but am trying to meet my mortgage by myself," said Yvonne, who is based in Irishtown.
"I spend more time in the red than the black. I've had no holiday in two years and there is no disposable income or luxuries."
She said it was unfair that gardai who must provide 24/7 cover, 365 days a year face a 5pc reduction in their earnings – a loss of €2,700 a year – while senators would take a hit of less than 1pc.
"I think gardai are very aggrieved that their employer is not looking out for their welfare and doesn't seem to care," she said.
She said Commissioner Martin Callinan's threat to discipline gardai who walked out of a conference when he was about to address it was not fair.
"All the gardai are doing is trying to defend their families and welfare. Gardai have to work unsociable hours and all they want is fair pay for doing so.
"Many have had to give up their cars and now rely on public transport, although they start work at 7am and finish at 3am. Senators can go home in the evening."
She said the proposed increase in hours would mean that gardai would have to work 11-hour shifts, although they sometimes work six shifts in a row.
"Like everyone else, we are also facing the property tax. One in 12 people can't pay their mortgages. Yet, nobody else in society can be disciplined by their employer for falling behind in payments.
"One member with 10 years' service had to hand back the keys of his house.
"We have to do such a horrible job, dealing with violent threats and telling people their sons or daughters have been in fatal accidents, and then go home and try to make ends meet."