THE ASSOCIATION OF Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has hit back at the Minister for Justice after he criticised the group for withdrawing from talks on extending the Croke Park deal.
General Secretary John Redmond said the AGSI was insulted by comments made by Alan Shatter on Friday and accused him of trying to divide and conquer members of An Garda Síochána.
The AGSI pulled out from talks on Friday, saying they had no choice given the proposal from the government to cut allowances for Gardaí. However afterwards Alan Shatter said the group was not acting “in the public interest, in the interests of An Garda Síochána or even in the interests of their own members”.
Redmond said tonight that the AGSI had had “no alternative” but to withdraw from the Croke Park talks. In a strong statement, Redmond criticised the Minister’s approach:
The Minister should disengage from trying to divide and conquer our membership. He knows nothing of the day-to-day financial issues faced by our members and is not in a position to speak about the morale levels within the force, as it is clear that he has no idea about that either.
Redmond said Garda sergeants and inspectors have had their earnings cut by 25 per cent in recent years while at the same time have seen their workload increase through new rosters and reduced numbers of employees.
“The revised roster sees members of An Garda Síochána working 60 hours before getting a day off,” said Redmond. “The EU average is far less than this. The government certainly does not work 60 hours before it gets a day off”.
Redmond said that “nothing of any value” would be achieved for Garda sergeants and inspectors by the group “continuing in the ‘pretend’ negotiation process”. “It is a one-sided agenda which would be imposed on our members,” said Redmond.
Alan Shatter has said he would prefer if his Department did not need to cut its budget but the current government has been left with a “terrible financial legacy” which means cuts are necessary.
“Nothing of value can be achieved by withdrawing from the talks and not engaging,” he said on Friday.
Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Niall Collins has said the AGSI’s withdrawal from the talks should be a “much needed wake-up call for Minister Shatter”.