herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Three new gardai have already quit due to low wages

Many more new Gardai have also threatened to quit with one saying they would be better off
Many more new Gardai have also threatened to quit with one saying they would be better off "stacking shelves in Tesco"

Newly-qualified gardai have claimed they have been "recruited into poverty".

Three new gardai have already resigned from the force due to low wages, a survey has revealed.

More than 24,000 people applied for the garda posts when they were announced in January 2014.

But the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has revealed that three of the elite 685 officers who qualified from Templemore have already quit.

The new officers have a starting wage of €23,171 - significantly lower than their colleagues who qualified before the recruitment freeze.

Many more new members have also threatened to quit with one saying they would be better off "stacking shelves in Tesco".

GRA vice president Ciaran O'Neill said: "The new question is now whether these members will remain within an Garda Siochana with many contending the two-tier pay structure has recruited them into poverty.

"From the new entrants, three have resigned so far. All are citing financial reasons - it is unprecedented. They have all gone to better-paid jobs."

Mr O'Neill, who regularly liaises with the new entrants, asked them to submit feedback of personal circumstances and financial pressures.

This month's Garda Review magazine carries 15 first-person accounts of the daily struggles of a new recruit.

The stories are anonymous to protect the identities of the gardai.

One 25-year-old officer told the magazine that he had applied for family income supplement from the Social Welfare "as we earn so little".

"I cannot afford medical aid or any other health insurance, and we need some kind of insurance in this job."

Another newly-qualified officer told how he dreamed of being a garda most of his life but is now considering leaving.

The Dublin-based officer said he has been forced to live on just €100 a week for food and savings after paying all his bills.

"I may have to abandon my dream job and find another job due to the circumstances that have arisen from pay-scale, rent allowance and taxation issues."

Many of the officers told how they were stationed many miles from their homes and now struggle to pay for transport.

Frozen

One wrote: "I live in Clonmel and commute 220km in total everyday to Wexford. It's an hour-and-a-half journey each way; so on top of a 10 hour shift I'm driving for three hours.

"This is costing over €100 per week in diesel. Also being away from home for 13 hours a day means that during the six working days I barely see my son."

One officer explained that he will have no option but to quit if pay increments are frozen.

"It is rewarding when you make a difference to some people's lives. It's just sad now that I will probably have to go back to working in Tesco, stacking shelves and making very little difference to anyone - and unfortunately I'd be better off too."

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