Gardai want permits for fast driving
GARDAI are looking for special driving permits to protect them from penalty points on their private licences while driving on duty.
Supervisors are fearful that their private licences will be affected if they collect penalty points for road traffic offences, allegedly committed when they are driving patrol cars.
Current internal regulations are meant to ensure that gardai are exempt from sanctions such as points for speeding, in special circumstances, if they are on duty.
But following last year's controversy over penalty points, some gardai say it is no longer clear if that exemption will still be enforced.
The annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, which gets underway today in Trim, Co Meath, will hear that members are becoming increasingly concerned that their personal licences will be affected.
The association's Westmeath branch is calling for Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan to introduce a special driving permit to safeguard them while on duty. The Garda College has also put down a motion calling for changes to a directive issued by Garda headquarters last year, which meant that driving training vehicles and motorcycles would no longer be exempt from any penalty point cancellation process while in official use.
The major issue dominating the agenda today is pay and delegates will debate a proposal that their pay rates should be increased to 2008 levels.
Some branches want an urban allowance for members, who work in areas with population in excess of 40,000 people.
The association will also send out a warning to the Government that the current intake of recruits must be increased immediately to prevent the continuing drop in the strength of the force.
At the moment, there are 300 new recruits in Templemoree Garda College, but delegates believe the number will have to be increased significantly.
Two branches, Kilkenny-Carlow and Kerry want the size of the force restored to 14,000, while there are also calls for transparency in the allocation of resources as well as an explanation from the commissioner of the rationale behind their deployment.
The conference will also examine the fallout from the decision by the European Social Committee, which will allow the association to directly negotiate on the pay of its members for the first time.
Up to now, the gardai did not have a seat at the negotiation table. But AGSI general secretary John Redmond said last night: "We will not be peripheral figures any more."