Sunday 18 November 2018

'You don’t need the money, you aren’t saving up to get a deposit for a house' - Garda pens open letter to Commissioner

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A member of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has written a letter to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan demanding further resources.

Ian Lester told the Commissioner that she needs to stop propagating the myth that there are more gardaí than there are and called on her to “start telling the truth”.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the garda explained his reasons for writing the letter.

“When the new commissioner took up her post she made it very clear she welcomed feedback from the public and from the members of the Garda Síochána, so my letter is feedback,” he said.

Mr Lester said the letter was his way of explaining how gardaí really feel working in Ireland in 2016.

While he did not receive a direct response from Ms O’Sullivan, he was questioned about the letter by his District Officer in the Cork Division.

“I said that it’s a responsibility to express the views of the members - I explained that I wrote it not about me specifically. It’s not me having a whinge, ‘Oh, woe is me’, I don’t believe in that. I think it’s fairly representative of how a lot of gardaí feel.”

The garda accepted that the Commissioner’s job “isn’t easy”, but said she needs to start facing reality and stop allowing herself to be “politicised”.

“I think she has an extremely difficult job. I don’t envy her job, but I think there is certain disconnect between the Commissioner, and upper management and the members on the ground,” he said.

Here is the letter in full:

Commissioner,

I am writing to you to try to give you and insight into how the job of being a Garda really works in the real world in 2016, and how to make a few simple changes to improve the lot of said gardaí - many of them cost neutral, but not all.

I work on the Uniform Regular, but just like Uniform Non Core, Traffic Corps, Detective Branch members of Garda Rank - I have multiples of the workload I had in 2007. I have less colleagues. I have less money. I have more work, more box ticking, more oversight, more pressure, more Chiefs, less Indians - but less training. I have an obsolete uniform, I have antiquated equipment, I have sub-standard vehicles, my job is more dangerous due to all the other problems. I make more decisions on a daily basis than you, any Super or any Chief. I have more and more ways to be the subject of a disciplinary investigation. I am guilty until proven innocent.

I would also like to give you some advice on how to make yourself feel more secure in your own job, and help you actually leave a legacy of how you can leave the job in a better state than you found it.

Firstly, start by telling the truth when asked the next time about the resources available. Telling the truth costs nothing. Every person in the country knows that you are not telling the truth when you say that we have enough resources. You are fooling no-one.

Acknowledge the facts that gardaí are your most important resource.

Stop propagating the myth that there are more gardaí than there are. The truth costs nothing.

Acknowledge that the Reserves serve no real purpose. The truth costs nothing.

Stop going along with the repeated announcements of the same recruitment drives. The truth costs nothing.

Tell the truth about how many people are retiring. The truth costs nothing.

Tell the truth and acknowledge that every member promoted to sergeant is in fact taking members away from frontline policing. The truth costs nothing.

Make investigating and solving crimes (remember that?) the priority again, not box ticking, not “making sure we cover all the bases”.

Stop implementing new policies that tie Sergeants to their desks with incessant returns and Pulse monitoring and requiring members to incessantly update their work - whether there’s an update or not.

Acknowledge that new gardaí are not being paid a living wage. The truth costs nothing.

Acknowledge that the poor pay of gardaí on the frontline does make them vulnerable.

Actually hand over promotions to the Policing Authority. Acknowledge that the system is broken. The truth costs nothing.

Acknowledge that morale among members is bad, as bad as it’s ever been. The truth costs nothing.

Admit that Smart Policing, TRUST Policy, Leave Your Lights On, Modernisation Program are just buzzwords - and that it is actually the job of whole departments of desk jockeys to come up with them. The truth costs nothing.

Support the cause that gardaí deserve to have their pay restored. The truth costs nothing.

You are NOT a politician, you are NOT elected. Don’t say that Garda pay isn’t your responsibility. You are a member of An Garda Síochána, just like me. Support me, and I’ll support you.

You are not the most important member of An Garda Síochána. I am. The garda that someone meets in the middle of the night on the side of the road at their accident is. The garda that people report their child missing to is. The member investigating their burglary is. The people in Finglas, Moyross, Knocknaheeny and Ballybeg don’t care who the commissioner is, or the Chief or the Super. They’re no good to them.

Don’t allow yourself to be politicised. People expect politicians to lie, cheat and steal. Perhaps playing politics helped to get you where you are, but it’ll also be the reason you get the sack - unless you make yourself immune to it. Don’t fear that you might lose your job. You don’t need the money, you aren’t saving up to get a deposit for a house. You could be remembered for making a difference to how Ireland is policed, but at the moment your just a figurehead for government policy - and to take the fall when it doesn’t work.

Don’t answer to door late at night to a man in a suit. He’s not calling with your “Employee of the Week” Award.

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