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Garda sergeants and inspectors set to make 'stinging attack' on new policing legislation

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors are set to hold their first conference since 2019.

Image: Leah Farrell

THE GROUP REPRESENTING middle ranking members of An Garda Síochána are set to launch a “stinging attack” on proposed new policing legislation. 

The annual delegate conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors begins today in Killarney.

Later Helen McEntee, the Minister For Justice, will address the first day of the conference.  

In a statement this morning AGSI has said the conference will put a sharp focus on the new Policing, Security, and Community Safety Bill which the organisation says provides an array of multiple bodies with complex and ambiguous responsibilities.   

The representative body said that the Bill creates confusion about the actual role of the Garda Commissioner as a CEO and has the potential to have several oversight groups with different visions for the organisation.  

More difficult

President Paul Curran will deliver a strong attack on the proposed legislation which AGSI says “create more difficulties than positive reform for An Garda Síochána in its current format.”  

Mr. Curran is expected to say that “the extended powers proposed to be granted to GSOC are without proper justification” and it is AGSI’s belief that these powers will encroach on the legal, constitutional, and privacy rights of members of AGSI who, as citizens as well as members of An Garda Síochána must be afforded their basic rights.  

The controversial new laws have garnered much negative reaction from a number of quarters, including civil liberty advocates and gardaí alike.

Already garda superintendents warned that the new Policing and Security Bill grants the Garda Ombudsman and Policing Authority “almost draconian” powers.

The government has been accused of granting excessive powers to oversight bodies managing gardaí.

The association that represents garda superintendents have said that if the bill passes, it will leave oversight bodies with more power over the gardaí than investigators have over criminals.

Also Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has strongly criticised the Policing and Security Bill, which he says grants powers to the Garda Ombudsman that are disproportionate, unconstitutional and would not withstand a challenge in court.

Drew Harris said the bill would introduce “a wide range of oversight bodies” with clashing and conflicting remits. He claimed that the Bill would cause the commissioner to be more focused on reporting to the various bodies than leading gardaí.

The bill, he said, would also outsource key areas of control from the commissioner to different oversight bodies and will not create an accountable, trusted and effective police service.

AGSI represents 2,300 Sergeants and Inspectors from 31 Branches nationwide.   

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Pay and rosters

General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham welcomed ”the opportunity to get in front of members for the first time in two years.”

“It’s been an extremely trying time for our members policing COVID-19 but the business of pay and conditions of our members continued throughout.   

“We must remember that our members are still policing the pandemic and, simultaneous to this major reforms have been happening including negotiations for a new Garda Roster, the continued implementation of the Operating Policing Model, discussions on the extension to the retirement age, and our ability to negotiate for our own pay and conditions.

“We look forward to raising these matters and more with the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner,” she said.   

19 motions will be tabled over the three-day event addressing issues such as pay, training, transport, equipment as well as security and law reform.  

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