Belfast Telegraph

Garda chief confident that talks will resolve strike threat

Garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan has voiced her confidence that ongoing talks will resolve a threatened strike by rank and file.

Before a parliamentary committee, Ms O'Sullivan said Garda top brass were focused on keeping all sides around the table in negotiations to end a pay dispute.

"There are mechanisms which all of the (Garda) associations are engaged in at the moment," she said.

"I would not as Garda commissioner, with all of the security and policing challenges we have, like to see anything happen that would do anything to disrupt the policing service and in any way compromise the safety and protection of the communities.

"We are very focused at the moment on ensuring that people stay engaged in the processes that are there and we will await the outcome of them, but I am confident that they will bring a suitable resolution."

Government officials are sitting down to talks with both the Garda Representative Association, which represents grassroots members, and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, which represents mid-ranking officers.

They have just weeks to forge an agreement before threatened strike action on November 4, 11, 18 and 25.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed talks with both representative organisations were continuing.

"I hope that we can negotiate a way forward," she said.

"Nobody wants to see the gardai on strike, nobody in the country and the gardai themselves.

"I want to, if at all possible, avoid this."

But she said there would be a contingency plan if strike action goes ahead, although she ruled out alternative arrangements involving the Army.

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