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Gerry O'Carroll: Timid AGSI and their parties should be wound up

It's that time of year again. Easter is close and the annual jamborees of the gardai take place.

This week it's the get-together of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), at the luxurious Radisson Hotel in Galway.

It brings me back.

During my years as a member of AGSI, I attended many such conferences and enjoyed them for what they were.

The conference is essentially a social event, three days of fun and frolics with a tiny bit of debate thrown in.

You'll see little snippets of press coverage but this is to show the paying members that the association is still in existence.

In effect it's a jamboree of wine and song, good food and a chance for old comrades to get together and 'shoot the breeze'.

Although back in my time the members' money wasn't spent on anything as extravagant as the Radisson overlooking Galway Bay.

You'll notice that very seldom are momentous decisions made at the AGSI conference.

Unlike the GRA, their sister organisation, there is no fiery passion, no thumping of tables.

The AGSI is always a very sedate event; rarely will you see walkouts or protests.

The reason there is no 'trouble' at the AGSI conferences is that a fair few mid-ranking gardai will have one eye on the career ladder and are aware that any outrageous behaviour could affect their future prospects.

That's why it's high time the AGSI was forced to join up with the rank and file GRA -- who after all did most of the hard work to get proper pay and conditions for the force.

Instead of swanning around the Radisson they should be looking at making one strong garda union to properly represent the interests of the force and the public.

Sure the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner will listen this week -- like a pair of favourite old uncles -- but will totally ignore 99pc of submissions and resolutions passed at the conference.

As Mssrs Ahern and Murphy arrive back to Dublin in their chauffeur-driven limousines, they will feel satisfied that they have indulged the conference -- as if they were dealing with unruly children.