Stephen Donnelly: Gardai daily face the frightening fallout of nation's economic reality
Officers accept that pay has to fall, but cuts must be fair and come only after waste is eliminated in spending
THE gardai made the news last week: walkouts, meetings with the Taoiseach and protests at the Dail. Their frustration has been triggered by Croke Park II – a perfect example of bad economics meeting out-of-date reform. Many say morale is at the lowest level in memory. Yet this is unnecessary – smarter economic policy and a modern approach to public sector reform would yield the necessary savings while strengthening our police service.
On Tuesday in Sligo, I addressed the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI). The following day I met with members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) outside Government Buildings. The message from both groups was the same: we are being hit harder than others, we are not being listened to, and many of us don't have anything left to give.
It would be easy to conclude that gardai don't understand the economic reality we live in, that they simply need to accept the same cuts as other public servants as a painful but inescapable necessity. But that conclusion would be incorrect. They do understand Ireland's economic reality, they deal with the consequences of it every day. They accept that pay has to fall, but not that it should fall more for them than for others.