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GRA leaders in last-minute talks as Labour Court issues recommendation

Last-ditch efforts to avoid a strike by Garda members tomorrow are continuing tonight.

Updated at 10.30pm: There’s been something of a breakthrough at the talks. For our latest story – which will be updated throughout the rest of the night – click here. 

Updated at 9.40pm:

THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE of Garda rank-and-file body the GRA is meeting tonight to discuss a recommendation from the Labour Court.

It comes as last-ditch efforts to avoid a strike by Garda members continue.

As of this evening, 10,500 GRA members and 2,000 higher-ranked members of the AGSI are due to go on strike from 7am tomorrow. Three more strike days are also scheduled to take place later this month.

The GRA said in a statement last night that any non-binding recommendation from the Labour Court would be put to members for a ballot

The statement said, however, that the threat of the four strike days would remain in place “unless we hear of substantial and significant progress towards real and tangible increases in pay”.

A recommendation from the Labour Court had initially been expected tomorrow, but earlier the GRA negotiating team was called back to the Dublin 4 court for an update on its position.

3/11/2016. Garda Strike. Garda Commissioner Noirin The Garda Commissioner speaks to reporters tonight Source: Leah Farrell

GRA President Ciaran O’Neill, speaking to reporters on his way in, said the news from the Labour Court this evening had been a “welcome development”.

“We’ve already committed that we are going to ballot our membership on the recommendation,” he said.

The GRA’s executive committee, the CEC, has been meeting since around 8.30pm to discuss the court’s recommendation.

An update is expected later this evening.

Separately, members of the AGSI remain at the Labour Court tonight as efforts continue to avert their threatened strike tomorrow.

Commissioner

In a brief press conference this evening Garda Commissioner Noirín O Sullivan moved to reassure the public, telling reporters that garda members would be on duty tomorrow.

Flanked by senior officers, she said that the force would have “members of all ranks working right around the country”.

“I want to thank those members for the work that they will do tomorrow and the challenges they will meet, the policing and security challenges that they meet every single day.”

The men and women of the gardaí and their families had endured hardships and challenges over the last number of years, she said.

And despite that they have stood up, they have done their duty.

The Commissioner issued a directive on Tuesday of this week ordering members to show up for work tomorrow. Superintendents were asked to contact each garda individually to ask them if they will be available for work.

GRA row this afternoon

The GRA’s negotiators were initially asked to attend the Labour Court at 3.30pm this afternoon – but their attendance at the court was delayed after a meeting of the CEC ran on longer than expected.

Earlier today, the officer board of the CEC – essentially its top officials – announced that a number of specialised units were being asked not to go on strike tomorrow.

According to sources, that announcement was made without consultation of the wider CEC – a 31-strong body that guides the GRA’s policy.

It’s understood the wider membership of the CEC was angry at being left out of the loop. However, that executive committee meeting later ended and the team headed back to the court for renewed efforts aimed at ending the dispute.

Strike scheduled 

Garda rank-and-file members, along with the sergeants and inspectors of the AGSI, announced  several weeks ago that they planned to go on strike tomorrow and on four other Fridays in November as the latest development in a long-running dispute over pay and access to the state’s industrial relations mechanisms.

- with reporting by Michelle Hennessy 

Read: ‘Skeletal service’: These garda units will work tomorrow as most rank-and-file members go on strike

Read: Garda management says ‘technical error’ led to overpayment of probationers

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