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Hanging wires, cramped locker rooms, no custody areas - gardaí say they work in 'third world conditions'

Gardaí at the GRA conference this year said no other public servants would be expected to work in these kinds of conditions.

RANK-AND-FILE gardaí have spoken out about the sometimes deplorable and cramped conditions they are forced to work in at stations across the country.

At the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual conference earlier this week, James Morrisroe of the Cavan/Monaghan division, proposed a motion calling for all district headquarter stations to be upgraded.

In his speech, Morrisroe referenced the now well-known Bailieboro garda station which he described as a “district headquarters crumbling down around our members”.

bailieboro Bailieboro Garda Station. Source: Google Street View

“It has been neglected and abandoned for many, many years. It is in a downright dangerous state and breaches even some of the most basic health and safety regulations on a number of fronts. This situation would not be tolerated in the private sector.”

A GRA committee report and an independent inspection of the station were both severely critical of conditions at the station and the GRA representative questioned why “in the year 2015, have public sector employees to work in third world conditions”.

“It is symptomatic of the ambivalent, detached attitude of successive governments towards conditions and resources allocated to frontline gardaí in their fight against serious criminal activity.”

The members he represents, he said, are not interested in personal accolades or being awarded gold stars.

They just want the basic facilities, training and resources to carry out their duties from a safety, health and welfare point of view.”

‘We already provide a first class service’

Seconding the motion was Jason Collins of the West Cork division who pointed out that the Commissioner and Minister for Justice continuously promise the delivery of a first class policing service.

“We the members on the ground know that we already provide a first class policing service without the proper equipment, cars and support that we need. The good will of our membership on the ground is the only mechanism which is keeping the show on the road.”

He described working conditions for officers at Macroom garda station:

One toilet for 16 females shared with members of the public, no custody area, members unprotected when dealing with prisoners from attacks and spitting, hanging wires, cramped locker rooms, packed hallways and no rest area offer our members no respite during a ten hour shift.

Collins was not the only one to reference the lack of facilities for female gardaí. In Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, Ben Lynch said the two female officers in the station face a bit of a challenge when they go to relieve themselves.

Tubbercurry Garda Station.

“The ladies bathroom, so I’m told, is a reverse in and drive out job. We had a male sergeant, he could verify that, but he was transferred,” he joked, before reminding delegates that this is actually a very serious issue.

Naas garda John-Joe Connell, who also spoke in favour of the motion, said this call for upgrades should be extended to all garda stations, not just district headquarters.

Several speakers pointed out that no other public servants are asked to work in these kinds of conditions. “It’s because we put up with it,” one remarked.

More from the conference:

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