Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Gardai defy protest restraint calls

Members of the Garda Representative Association protest outside Government Buildings in Dublin
Members of the Garda Representative Association protest outside Government Buildings in Dublin

Gardai have ignored criticisms and warnings of disciplinary action by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Commissioner Martin Callinan and held the latest in a series of protests.

About 50 members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) demonstrated outside Taoiseach Enda Kenny's offices in central Dublin over pay cuts.

PJ Stone, general secretary of the GRA, attacked Mr Kenny over claims that officers' representatives had walked out of public sector negotiations and that the reductions were fair.

"An Taoiseach was disingenuous on Monday when he blamed us for walking out of pay talks - and suggesting we could have made a deal," he said.

"We were never offered a seat in the negotiations between Government and the trade unions; members of An Garda Siochana have been sidelined since 1922.

"We see current proposals as blatantly unfair. How our Taoiseach can see this as fair is simply baffling.

"Any public servant working nine to five and earning up to 65,000 euro per year will not have their pay reduced; while a garda earning 38,000 euro per year will suffer a substantial pay cut: under the proposals before the trade union congress only gardai and nurses are targeted.

"The placard protest at the gates to Government Buildings is the third in a series of demonstrations after GRA members gathered outside the pay talks and last week at the Dail."

Commissioner Callinan on Tuesday told the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) conference in Sligo that mid-ranking officers could endanger the force's standing in the community by joining protests. He said he was speaking specifically about an Agsi circular calling on off-duty officers not to report for work if they are called upon.

The Commissioner also said he would consider disciplining four gardai who walked out of the conference room when Mr Shatter launched a withering attack on garda representatives, claiming they had lost their way.

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