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Shatter not invited to GRA conference to avoid 'giving him a platform for spin'

The garda association decided not to invite the minister for the second year in a row as its members feel little has changed in the last year in terms of resources.

THE GARDA REPRESENTATIVE Association (GRA) decided not to invite the Minister for Justice to their annual conference for a second year in a row, to prevent him from having a “platform for spin” on stories about resourcing in the force.

Alan Shatter sparked tension when he declined an invitation to attend the annual conference of the AGSI – the association representing sergeants and inspectors – last week but the GRA said they have not invited him to their conference at all.

Last year, the GRA made the decision not to extend an invitation to the minister because its members were in a dispute with the government over the public pay deal. A number of motions of no confidence in Shatter had also been passed by regional divisions of the GRA at the time.

“Members were to the pin of their collar in the fight against crime and traffic policing, trying to keep road deaths down and we were starved for resources,” President of the association, John Parker, said. “We were faced with constant spin of announcements such as 300 new cars without the public being properly informed that we had actually lost 450 extra cars.”

The executive council discussed the possibility of inviting the minister again this year but Parker said they questioned whether “anything positive had happened or whether there’d been increased interaction and resourcing” and decided they could not realistically put forward a motion proposing the invitation.

“We’re not inviting him because nothing is going to come out of it,” he said. We’d be giving him a platform for spin, and we’ve no right of reply – we couldn’t contradict him during his speech.”

The theme and the agenda for the GRA conference, which starts on 28 April, have yet to be announced but the AGSI conference this week will hear motions on tazers, whistleblower protection and training.

The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment on the topic.

Related: Otherwise engaged: Alan Shatter has decided not to attend this year’s AGSI conference>

Read: Tazers and whistleblowers up for debate during AGSI conference>

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