'People will never look at gardai the same if they strike' - Varadkar
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has been accused of pitching the public against gardai after saying people "won't ever" look at the force in the same way again if they strike.
The minister has called on officers to reflect on the position they hold in society "before making a decision that can't be stepped back from".
He said that by "potentially leaving communities unprotected for one Friday or multiple Fridays over the coming weeks, the public won't see them in the same way as they did in the past".
However, Mr Varadkar's comments have only served to raise the anger of gardai who are scheduled to withdraw their services on four Fridays next month.
Members of AGSI are due to begin their industrial action on Friday by refusing to log on to Pulse, the garda data system.
Mr Varakdar made his initial comments on the way into yesterday morning's Cabinet meeting.
It prompted AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham to say that if he wanted to protect public relationships he "should be putting his energies into finding solutions and not pitching the public and the guards against each other".
However, later as he attended a press conference to announce the end of JobsBridge, Mr Varadkar reiterated his view, outlining why gardai are seen as different from other public servants.
"They are uniformed officers. They swear to uphold the law. That really sets them apart from other public servants," he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has confirmed it is "exploring options" for dealing with immigration control at airports ahead of planned days of industrial action by gardai.
It is understood that concerns have been raised by airlines that flights and services at airports could be affected on the days.
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "The Department is exploring with An Garda Siochana and Dublin Airport Authority options for dealing with immigration control in the event of the planned strike action going ahead."