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(File Image) Varadkar made it clear the Government would not be removing commissioner Drew Harris, pictured. Alamy Stock Photo
Drew Harris

Taoiseach says Govt won’t remove Garda Commissioner if he loses no-confidence vote

The Garda Representative Association is balloting members amid a deepening dispute over plans to change the rostering system.

THE GOVERNMENT RETAINS full confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, and that will not change if rank-and-file gardaí pass a vote of no confidence in him, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is balloting members amid a deepening dispute over Harris’s plans to change the rostering system within the force.

The GRA, representing 12,000 rank-and-file gardaí, said it was “disappointed” following a meeting with the Garda boss yesterday to discuss concerns raised by members.

Its interim general-secretary Ronan Slevin said issues with resources, recruitment and suspensions were discussed, but that the “central issue regarding rosters remains unresolved”.

The unprecedented no-confidence vote stems from discontent within the force, mostly around the Commissioner’s plan to return to a pre-pandemic roster from 6 November.

A different roster was implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic, and commitment was given by the GRA and other representative groups to return to the old roster when it ended.

But the GRA has raised concerns over low morale in the force and said retention and recruitment issues will affect the implementation of the old roster.

Speaking to reporters in Co Louth, Varadkar was asked whether he would support Justice Minister Helen McEntee removing Harris if the GRA passed a vote of no confidence in him.

He made it clear the Government would not be removing the commissioner.

“That won’t happen,” said Varadkar. “The Government has confidence in Commissioner Harris.

“The commissioner is appointed by government after a fair competition and we stand by that process.

“It’s not the case that the teachers in the staffroom decide who the principal is. It’s not the case that the players decide who the coach is.

“The Garda Commissioner is appointed by the Government after a fair and free process that people can apply for and we stand over that appointment and we have confidence in him,” Varadkar added.

Last Wednesday the central executive committee (CEC) of the GRA decided to ballot its members.

The CEC cited what it said was the commissioner’s failure to address the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis and lack of appropriate training as among the issues behind the decision.

A date has not yet been chosen for the vote, though it is expected to be held in three to four weeks.

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