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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Photocall Ireland
Garda dispute

Garda group has not ruled out industrial action during US Presidential visit

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors are meeting in Galway for their annual conference this week.

THE REPRESENTATIVE BODY for middle ranked gardaí has said they could not rule out industrial action during the Biden visit.

Antoinette Cunningham, General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, said that delegates at the annual conference will discuss the next course of action in their dispute over a proposed roster. 

Gardaí are engaged in an industrial relations row with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris over proposed new working hours.

Both garda representative groups, AGSI as well as the Garda Representative Association (GRA) had voted against accepting new working time arrangements for gardaí.

The issue is a key discussion point at the conference and gardaí had held a protest march at Garda Headquarters in recent weeks.

Today, speaking to reporters in Galway, Cunningham would not be drawn on what the next step would be. US President Joe Biden is expected to visit Ireland later this month.

When asked if AGSI are considering a ‘Blue Flu’ like strike during the upcoming visit by the US leader she responded: “At this point in time, I can’t reassure members on anything because I haven’t spoken to the delegates.

‘Blue Flu’ was the name given to industrial action by gardaí in 1998 when members phoned in sick – gardaí are unable to organise strike action by law.   

“So the mandate will come from the floor tomorrow by lunchtime, and I will inform everybody that needs to be informed at that time, what the members wish to do.”

Minister for Justice Simon Harris, who spoke to delegates this afternoon, described the potential for industrial action during the visit as “unhelpful”. 

“I’m conscious that it’s for them for to decide what action to take. I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that. I think that would be unhelpful.

“It’s not really for me to intervene quite frankly. I’m very clear of the legal difference of my role and that of the Garda Commissioner.

“I’m also very clear that organisations like the AGSI and others campaign very intensively to have access to the industrial relations mechanisms of the state and quite rightly they now have that, the government quite rightly conceded that point,” he said. 

The Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is due to visit the conference tomorrow. He has referred the issue to the Workplace Relations Commission. 

Paul Curran, President of AGSI, criticised the Minister for refusing to meet AGSI members on their protest march. 

In his speech to delegates he said the Minister’s refusal to discuss the issue with them had prompted further action. 

“Your attempts to encourage us to take an expedited route to the Workplace Relations Commission, instead of adhering to the processes as set out demonstrate that you are either not familiar with them or do not believe they should be adhered to,” he said. 

Curran told the Minister that his refusal to intervene “shows a distinct hands-off approach by you and is not good enough”.

The two day conference ses 150 garda sergeants and inspectors meeting in Salt Hill Galway. 

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