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GRA boss accepts planned strike may not be legal

Gardaí are planning to withdraw their services on four days in November in dispute over pay.

File photo/.
File photo/.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE GENERAL SECRETARY of the Garda Representative Association has accepted that a planned cease of services by rank-and-file gardaí in November may not be legal.

Speaking this morning on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Pat Ennis said that the legislation surrounding gardaí going on strike “placed us in a terrible position”.

“The Garda membership occupy what’s described as a unique position of weakness within the Irish public service industrial relations system,” said Ennis.

“We’re denied the civil rights afforded to other workers and citizens and we are denied the civil rights to withdraw our labour.”

GRA announced yesterday that it will launch strike action on four separate days in November, following the rejection of pay proposals from the Department of Justice.

The proposed dates for the strike are November 4, 11, 18 and 25.

When pressed on whether he would admit that the action was a breach of the law, Ennis said:

I would accept that it is not compliant with the current legislation.

Under Section 59 of the Garda Síochána Act (2005), people are not permitted encourage gardaí to withdraw their services.

The Section states:

A person is guilty of an offence if he or she induces, or does any act calculated to induce, any member of the Garda Síochána to withhold his or her services or to commit a breach of discipline.

Ennis said that the legislation “needed to reviewed” as it did not grant gardaí their rights.

“Any legislation that seeks to treat any worker or citizen differently and less favourable than any other is flawed and needs to be reviewed,” he said.

“I suppose when it was drafted, it was drafted in the context of other facilities being available to ensure that our rights were protected.

And the organs of the state that are supposed to ensure that we are treated fairly as well as any other citizen has failed in that regard.

Response to strike

Speaking in the Dáil today in response to the GRA announcement, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that she “was in no doubt about the seriousness of the situation”.

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“That is why my Department has engaged very intensively with the GRA and it is absolutely open, as am I, to meeting to resolve the outstanding issues,” she said.

Fitzgerald said she knew “how much gardaí suffered as a result of the economic meltdown”.

“The financial problems of a garda married to another garda were doubled,” she said.

As in the case of other public servants, the Government is committed to finding a way forward.

She said the Government would re-engage with gardaí ahead of the proposed strike days.

Read: Rank-and-file gardaí to withdraw labour on four dates in November

Read: Teachers and gardaí face pay freezes as Lansdowne Road agreement comes into effect

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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