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Article on garda roster misleading

Sir -- Jim Cusack's article on policing (Sunday Independent, January 8, 2011), was misleading. The first sentence made a ridiculous, sensationalist assertion that 'could see gardai receive 174 days annual leave'. There was no mention that gardai are required to work weekends, bank and public holidays. Weekends and public holidays account for 113 days each year -- but are not viewed as annual leave by anyone -- except perhaps Mr Cusack?

Mr Cusack failed to acknowledge that the length of garda shifts will increase from eight to 10 hours in many cases, and some standard weeks will see some gardai working 60 hours for their basic salary. This core omission seriously skews the reality, leaving the reader with the (false) perception that members of the force are having their working hours reduced.

While everyone else in our community sleeps or enjoys Christmas dinner, the country's frontline public servants remain on duty. This went unacknowledged in the article.

Members of An Garda Siochana have an old adage in the form of an equation: R+2 = D, because so many gardai died within two years of retirement as a direct consequence of working constantly rotating shifts that did not take account of additional time needed to attend court. Throughout the force's history, gardai have worked unsocial and unhealthy rosters, which are now being addressed because they breach European law. The new roster is being designed to meet the needs of Government and increasing crime while garda numbers are being drastically reduced to dangerous levels.

Damien McCarthy,

President,

Garda Representative Association

Sunday Independent