Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Gardai action 'no risk for public'

The Garda Representative Association picket public sector pay talks at Lansdown House in Dublin

The public will not be put at risk when gardai restrict work practices and stop using their own cars and equipment for work, officials have claimed.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said people will have to wait to see what impact the "withdrawal of goodwill" will have, but insisted officers will not be breaking the law with the action.

John Parker, GRA president, said gardai have been providing a sticking plaster to an under-resourced force by using personal cars, mobile phones, laptops and cameras - all which will stop indefinitely from Friday.

"The public will not be put at risk," Mr Parker said. "But it will be up to managers to manage the situation."

Up to 30 gardai earlier protested outside public sector pay talks in Dublin amid claims they have been frozen out of negotiations for more cuts.

The GRA executive criticised the public service committee of Congress for negotiating cuts behind closed doors on their behalf when gardai cannot be granted trade union status or form a union.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said it was unfortunate members staged the protest and would not participate in the talks.

The minister said every other public sector representative body was representing the best interests of their members by seeking to influence the shape of the outcome through constructive engagement in the process.

But Mr Parker said those involved in the talks have no concept of the dangers gardai face. "There's no danger money allowance, no public order allowance, and no allowance for getting stabbed or shot," he said. "You cannot compare Garda work to the average industrial worker, but that's what those guys are doing inside."

The GRA has claimed that it was never involved in actual talks on public sector pay and only took part in an opening briefing session. It is not a union and under an oath that all officers take its members cannot strike or take part in industrial action. It stopped short of publicly threatening unofficial action or a "blue flu" such as in 1998 when thousands of officers phoned in sick.

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