Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Call to commissioner over resources

PJ Stone of the GRA speaks to the media after talks with the Garda Commissioner in Dublin

The Garda Commissioner has been urged to tell the public that adequate policing cannot be delivered within Government budget cuts.

More than 11,000 rank-and-file gardai will stage a form of action from this Friday when they will refuse to use personal cars, phones or laptops for official use.

PJ Stone, of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), denied officers are breaking the law by the move, which he maintained would not disrupt policing.

But he revealed there had been a serious exchange of views during talks on Garda cuts with Commissioner Martin Callinan, who they believed was moved by some of the information he heard.

GRA general secretary Mr Stone said: "It is not going to disrupt policing. It is merely intended to show that we're serious. That there will be an incremental approach to any visit on the pay and conditions of members of An Garda Siochana.

"I think it's very unfair, we have members who when they retire do not enjoy the same longevity of life as others simply because they're working nights and weekends and it is grossly unfair that in the discussions that are taking place currently that people are going to reduce those earnings."

Mr Stone also disputed "the notion" that the GRA pulled out of talks on an extension of the Croke Park agreement earlier this month, adding it was only a briefing session and that it was never involved in pay negotiations.

"The key players who are down there now negotiating on behalf of the Garda Siochana do not have the authority, in my view, to reach agreement in respect of our pay and conditions of employment," he added.

Mr Callinan agreed to meet the GRA national executive at Garda Headquarters after a vote of no confidence in Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who has appealed for them to re-enter pay talks.

In a statement, the commissioner said he listened carefully first hand to the concerns of its membership. He added: "I reminded those present of how conscious I was of the fantastic work that was being done on a daily basis by the members of An Garda Siochana, and that I hoped nothing would be said or done to interfere with the public support we enjoy in fulfilling our statutory obligations to provide the best possible police service to the communities that we serve."

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