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Corruption warning over Irish police

Gardai struggling to repay debts because of public sector pay cuts could be vulnerable to corruption, a rank and file leader has warned.

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), said international experience has shown low-paid forces are susceptible to "being got at".

Cash-strapped officers want to overturn regulations which ban them from certain part-time jobs and threaten dismissal over civil debts, such as mortgage arrears.

"You can't squeeze them on the one hand, where they're not in a position to pay their debts, and then on the other side of that introduce a strict discipline code which could effectively mean they might lose their jobs as a result of that difficulty," said Mr Stone.

The GRA leader wants an overhaul of rules in the Garda code which, he suggested, could lead to corruption among financially struggling officers.

"There is always the likelihood - and it has been proved in other countries where you pay police forces at a rate of pay that puts them in a vulnerable place - that there is a risk of people being got at and that's a fact of life," he said.

Calls for the rule changes are among a number of motions on financial hardship to be discussed at the GRA's annual conference in Limerick city.

On the opening night, Mr Stone accepted there were certain part-time occupations that would not "gel" well with being in the Garda.

But he insisted there was a need for relaxing the regulations, including restrictions on officers working in the same district where they live, which he said made travel costly.

"You cannot have a situation where members of the force are put into a place where they might not want to be in terms of their ability to pay their lawful debts," he said. "That has to be addressed in terms of some sort of alleviation of the Garda code, or conditions applicable to contracts."

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