herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Garda association bosses face vote of no confidence

'The GRA did not respond to a query from the Herald last night. Calls to members of the officer board also went unanswered.' (Stock picture)
'The GRA did not respond to a query from the Herald last night. Calls to members of the officer board also went unanswered.' (Stock picture)

The officer board of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) faces a motion of no confidence as anger grows over the deferral of yesterday's planned strike.

Sources in the GRA's central executive council (CEC) have confirmed that a motion will be tabled, possibly as early as Monday.

The Herald has seen correspondence from CEC members and rank-and-file gardai who are furious over the decision not to go ahead with the strike.

Much of the anger centres around the decision agreed after a meeting at Garda Headquarters on Thursday morning that 18 specialist units would be on duty while the planned 24-hour strike went ahead.

According to senior gardai and Government figures, this would have ensured that the security of the State was not compromised and that significant policing cover was in place at all times.

A similar agreement was proposed on three occasions in recent weeks, but rejected out of hand.

Weakened

It is claimed by GRA sources that the union's negotiation team, headed by its president, Ciaran O'Neill, and general secretary, Pat Ennis, agreed to the deal without the approval of the wider executive.

The team has now been accused of a "solo run" by consenting to the request of garda management to exempt the 18 specialist units.

"It weakened our hand significantly," said one source. "It was the turning point."

A second source said the decision caused "consternation" and that some executive members were demanding that it be reversed.

The GRA did not respond to a query from the Herald last night. Calls to members of the officer board also went unanswered.

At Monday's meeting, the board will be asked why it took the decision without first consulting the executive.

They will also be quizzed over why they did not inform the executive at the Wednesday night meeting of the executive that garda management had invited them to talks the following morning.

Dozens of gardai are understood to have contacted the union yesterday expressing their anger and anxiety.

In some of the correspondence, it is claimed accepting the agreement represented a "surrender" on behalf of grassroots members.

Other correspondence states that the momentum behind the GRA's attempts to secure significantly improved pay and conditions has now been lost.

Some rank-and-file gardai also demanded to see the voting records of executive members from Thursday night's ballot, in which the vote was 20:17 in favour of deferral.

Gardai will now be asked to vote on the offer tabled by the Labour Court.

However, some sources say the deal may be rejected because members are of the belief it "only looks good on paper".

Given that a 24-hour strike is pencilled in for next Friday, it is expected that the ballot will be completed within days.

The offer equates to about €30 a week after tax, which does not include an additional 15 minutes of parading before a shift.

One source said "rank-and-file gardai are not too happy about that, as they already have the longest working week in the public service".

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