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Gardaí cut collective leave allowance as 'contingency' for possible Christmas Covid-19 measures

The garda Covid-19 Co-ordination Unit told gardaí the measure will take effect on 22 November.

Garda checkpoints were a feature during lockdown measures (file photo)
Garda checkpoints were a feature during lockdown measures (file photo)
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE PERCENTAGE OF gardaí allowed to take annual leave at once has been cut as part of a “contingency” to deal with potential concerns around Covid-19 over the Christimas period. 

Rank-and-file gardaí were told via email in recent days that the so-called “extraction rate” had been reduced from 25% to 10%.

The extraction rate is a garda phrase meaning the amount of the force who can be off work for annual leave and other entitlements at a given time. 

Sources have said that it is part of a broader strategy to deal with any potential decision by Government regarding increased measures to deal with Covid-19. 

“This is not to be taken as a sign that a lockdown is imminent and it’s important that people see this in the context of a cautious approach by garda management,” a source said. 

“This is being done because there needs to be capacity in the system to deal with any eventuality – we may need more bodies on the streets.

“This will be reviewed at the moment but it would be foolish for the organisation not to put a contingency in place.”

A garda spokesperson has refused to comment on operational matters. 

It is understood that the email, circulated by the Covid-19 Co-Ordination Unit in Garda Headquarters, said the measure would come into effect on 22 November with no end date.

The Journal has requested statements from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Frank Thornton, President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said that garda management had made no efforts to consult the group.

“There are obviously concerns from our members regarding this announcement as it was made without any prior consultation with the GRA.

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“We have not been given any explanation as to why this decision was made at such short notice, except for sound bites in the media which can often lead to ill-informed speculation.

“If there are changes to our members’ working conditions, we believe they deserve the respect of meaningful consultation with those who represent them.”

Earlier, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned people to reduce their exposure to the virus over the festive season. 

He warned that, as we enter the run-up to Christmas, the virus will have more opportunities to spread through increased “inter-generational socialisation” where families are gathering together. 

However, he added that: “‘Christmas 2021 will be different to Christmas 2020, because of vaccination.”

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