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Angry gardai will protest if pay is slashed

"ANGRY" middle-ranking gardai will protest if the Government moves to cut pay or allowances as part of a plan to save €1bn in the public service pay bill.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors warned that members may mount protests and demonstrate if they lose money as part of the revised Croke Park initiative to generate savings.

AGSI General Secretary John Redmond said that members were "beside themselves with anger" and warned that "there will be protests" if payments are hit.

He was speaking after further talks as part of the proposed extension to the Croke Park agreement and said his members were quite adamant in relation to any changes or adjustments to their existing allowances.

"Sunday premium and twilight hours and allowances that our members work hard to earn are very definitely off the table as far as we are concerned and we will not countenance any reduction or any adjustment to those allowances," Mr Redmond said.

Asked about warnings by the Taoiseach that the Government may legislate to cut pay if agreement on an extended Croke Park deal could not be reached, he said: "Our view is he is at liberty to do that but if he does that he will have to expect and be prepared for what is going to happen.

Attack

"My members have relayed to us through AGMs over the past three weeks that they are beside themselves with anger over what is going on with regard to the attack on their pay and allowances. I do not know how much more they are going to take without standing up to be counted."

While Garda representative bodies have been told that their members will have to contribute about €60m of the €1bn in savings which the Government requires from the public service pay bill, they have not been told by the Government how it thinks that figure would be achieved. Mr Redmond said he hoped more specifics would emerge from talks today.

While the AGSI ruled out a widespread "blue flu" or mass sick leave -- under the Garda Siochana Act 2005 balloting gardai on industrial action is illegal -- it said it was prepared to engage in protests to demonstrate the frustration levels among its members.

There would be protests and there would be "a demonstration of our anger and annoyance at the way the Government intends to treat us", Mr Redmond said.

The Government has told unions the level of savings it requires from each sector depends on the percentage of the current public service wage bill they represent. In education, for example, it wants €350m in cuts because the sector makes up 35pc of the State's pay bill.

mlavery@herald.ie