THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE has described yesterday’s picket by the Garda Representative Association outside the talks on reaching a new public pay agreement as “a bad day for the force”.
Alan Shatter has again criticised the GRA and its sister body, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, for not participating in the talks – saying the most appropriate way for the associations to address the issues they oppose would be to participate in the discussions.
The AGSI has not been part of the talks since January 25, while the GRA – which represents ‘ordinary’ rank and file members – pulled out on February 4.
“Yesterday was a bad day for the reputation of the Force when, outside Lansdowne House, members of the GRA executive saw fit both to engage in protest action, and criticise and abuse other trade unions and public representative bodies” participating in the talks, Shatter said in a statement.
“I am concerned that what took place yesterday could discredit the Force in the eyes of many people.”
Shatter also said comments from the GRA’s PJ Stone, who said the GRA had never been part of the talks, were “grossly” misleading.
The facts are that all public sector representative bodies were invited to a series of meetings which were facilitated by officers from the Labour Relations Commission.
A number of options were put to the Garda Associations at those meetings. The intention was that these options would be negotiated with the Garda Associations with the objective of realising the relevant savings in the Garda Vote.
Shatter said both associations had decided to withdraw from the discussions before “any meaningful engagement”, but said the associations could only address the concerns about Garda pay – or put any counter-proposals on how else to make savings – by taking part in the talks.
“For as long as the GRA and AGSI remain outside the talks they can have no such influence and I would, once again, urge each body to properly represent the best interests of their members by re-engaging immediately in the talks process,” he said.
The minister added that while tense relationships between Garda bodies and the Minister for Justice had been a feature of politics “throughout my political life”, it had shown “disrespect” to the Taoiseach and Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, to openly question their authority or express a lack of confidence in them.