herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Howlin in U-turn on garda sick leave after threat, court hears

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin made a sudden U-turn to include gardaí with other public servants in new sick leave regulations after a senior trade union official threatened to ballot their members, the High Court has heard.

Yesterday in a legal challenge by the four bodies that represent members of An Garda Siochana , High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told members of the force had been informed they would be initially excluded from the new regulations.

As part of the new regulations, sick leave on full pay has been reduced from six months to three.

Barrister Fechin McDonagh, SC, for the garda representative bodies, said information revealed that Minister Howlin changed his mind after Shay Cody, general secretary of Impact trade union, threatened to ballot his members if the gardai were not included.

serious

When Judge Kearns said that very serious statements were being made in relation to Mr Cody, who was not represented in court, Mr McDonagh said it was not suggested Mr Cody had done anything unlawful.

Mr McDonagh said it was inappropriate for the Minister to take Mr Cody's views into account when considering whether or not to include gardaí in the scheme.

The case against the Minister concerns the implementation of provisions of the 2014 Public Service Management (Sick Leave) Regulations which reduce public service sick leave entitlements and were introduced in April.

Garda representative bodies claim the regulations were brought in without proper consultation and are irrational and incomprehensible.

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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