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'We're willing to change': Senior gardaí say proposal for targeted severance package is 'unsettling'

The Association of Garda Superintendents said its members have been at the fore in reform and want to be part of the modernisation of the force.

SENIOR GARDAÍ HAVE said they are concerned about the suggestion that they are unwilling to engage with reforms and they have found the proposal of a severance package “unsettling”.

Last year the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland recommended An Garda Síochána offer a “one-off targeted severance option” to gardaí who did not want to be a part of the overhaul of the organisation.

The commission in its report said it found most garda personnel want comprehensive change, but it is “to be expected and entirely understandable that not all personnel will want to go through the kind of transformation that we envisage”.

Speaking at the annual conference for the Association of Garda Superintendents, president Noel Cunningham said this proposal is “having an unsettling effect on our members”.

“The commentary around it being targeted at those resistant to change and limited to a selected few is of concern as our members have been to the fore in reform through the modernisation and renewal programme since 2015 and before that in managing austerity,” he said.

He said any suggestion that superintendents are reluctant or not willing to change should not be included in the proposal or in any of the discussion around it.

“If you look at all the major issues that happened over the last several years – in relation to Foot and Mouth, in relation to foul pests, in relation to subversives, they were managed by superintendents,” he said.

The first people to arrive generally were An Garda Síochána and the last people to leave were the guards and that was managed by superintendents. We are not reluctant to change, in fact we embrace change and we’re very quick to change and we’re very quick to respond. We have to be recognised for that.

Cunningham did acknowledge it was important to create opportunities for gardaí who are moving up the ranks. He said some older gardaí will want to take the offered package and “move on”, as the job is “extremely stressful”.

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