MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Alan Shatter has said today that he is “as angry as” the gardaí about the financial situation the force finds itself in.
Speaking to This Week on RTÉ Radio 1, he appealed for the garda representative bodies to enter the Croke Park extension talks, saying he “think[s] it’s very unfair” that they exited the process at a very early stage.
Shatter said he knows that members of An Garda Síochána have genuine concerns not just about the pay and allowances issue but also about their family finances, adding:
What’s very disappointing is it appears the leadership of the Garda bodies believe that public expressions of anger and motions of condemnation can achieve something.
The Minister said he believes that gardaí are better inside the talks than outside them, and that they do have something of value in the interest of their members in continuing the talks.
Shatter said that “no one pretends this is easy” and that he has to deal with difficult financial issues in respect of the force. He said that the previous Fianna Fáil government would have made available to him €90billion less in 2012 than they do have, but the government were able to “recalibrate” this.
I am as angry as members of the force are that we find ourselves in our current financial circumstances.
I don’t believe – and I’m not sure that all members of the force necessarily fully understand this – I don’t believe that shouting from outside contributes
Shatter said he believes members of the force will continue to do their duty, and that he thinks it’s very important in the context of the standing of the force and its members that they do.
Garda Representative Association
John Parker of the Garda Representative Association described the Croke Park extension talks’ initial briefing sessions as “like drawing teeth”
He said that some of the suggestions the GRA had – including incentivising career breaks for 100 people which they say would save €5 or 6 million – the government “don’t want to count”.
He described today’s comments by Minister Shatter as “more smoke and mirrors”. “What he is trying to do now is put diesel in our petrol tank,” said Parker.
Parker said that gardaí “will be engaged in a dispute and he will know we are engaged” if moves are made to cut their allowances. Currently, gardaí have “restricted or turned off the goodwill tap”, said Parker, which “will make things a little harder but the job will go on”.
He told TheJournal.ie that they have a number of things they can do in this vein and that this action could end up costing Minister Shatter more than the cuts he has proposed.
Parker said there has to be some sort of an emergency services danger premium, and “realistically you can’t expect any father, mother, husband or wife to put on a uniform and go out in the knowledge their family life is at threat”.