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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C

'Unnecessary': Drew Harris criticises middle-ranking officers over plan to picket Garda HQ

Both Leo Varadkar and Commissioner Drew Harris were speaking at the opening of a new garda station in Dublin earlier today.

THE TAOISEACH HAS said that “modifications” would be needed to garda rosters to halt an industrial relations dispute while Commissioner Drew Harris believes that protests by middle ranked gardaí are “unnecessary”. 

Both Leo Varadkar and Harris were speaking at the opening of a new garda station in Dublin earlier today. 

Members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) are set to picket garda headquarters on Monday as part of a “day of action” against the Commissioner’s handling of the roster dispute. 

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

AGSI had voted earlier this week to carry out protests in a clear escalation in its disagreement with Garda Headquarters. Harris has referred the issue to the Workplace Relations Commission. 

Speaking this morning Varadkar said that it was a “very important issue that needs to be resolved”. 

“We need rosters that work for the public so that the guards are available when we need them to be available. But you also need rosters that work for gardaí that respects family life and work life balance,” he said. 

Varadkar said that “everyone” accepts that there is a need for reform and to modernise garda rosters but added that they needed to be fair to the workforce. 

“We do need people working weekends and evenings but you can’t expect people to work every weekend and every evening for the rest of their life.

“So it’s about getting the balance right, [it] probably just involves some modifications rather than going back to the drawing board,” he said.

Garda station opening 009 Eamonn Farrell Minister for Justice Simon Harris, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, and Minister for Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform Paschal Donohoe at the official opening of the new Garda station on O’Connell Street in Dublin. Eamonn Farrell


Drew Harris said that he believed the days of action were unwarranted and that he had met with AGSI to listen to its concerns. 

“Well, roster issues were subjected to examinations now for some three and a half years – we tried hard internally to find a resolution, that wasn’t possible.

“My view is now that it had to move to the external conciliation service, that’s the WRC. That’s presently ongoing, and we certainly will be entering the WRC hopeful of finding a conclusion and resolution,” he said. 

Harris said that changes to the working time hours of gardaí were about finding efficiencies around “service delivery” and the general effectiveness of operational gardaí. 

“I would say that the protest itself will be unnecessary given the action being taken and I don’t think it’s particularly helpful when we’re going into the process of the WRC,” he added.

100 members of the AGSI will march on the Garda Headquarters on Monday morning.

Sources have said that the GRA’s Central Executive Committee met last night to discuss the issue.

It is understood that the WRC has sent an invite to AGSI and GRA to attend a meeting with the Department of Public Expenditure, Department of Justice and garda management officials.

In the meantime, the current contingency roster which was put in place during Covid-19 has been extended until September next. 

Gardaí affected by the change are unhappy with an arrangement which would see them working for seven straight days before receiving two rest days. 

The issue is around so-called “non-core” units which make up specialist gardaí such as detectives and community policing. In the new roster, they would work six days on/three days off, then seven days on/two day off and then seven days on/three days off.  

There are also concerns about the possible loss of allowances for working unsociable hours because they would not be expected to perform night duty. 

AGSI said its members had rejected the proposed new Garda Roster in November citing work-life balance issues, and a requirement to work up to an additional 47 days per year, for some members – they rejected the roster proposals by 63% in a ballot of members. 

The issue has caused disquiet in garda representative bodies for the last three years as negotiations were ongoing.

Niall O'Connor and Tadgh McNally
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