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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Justice Minister Helen McEntee. Alamy Stock Photo
Ain't no GRA

McEntee asked GRA to 'reconsider' not inviting Harris to event ahead of her own refusal to attend

Last night The Journal revealed that the Justice Minister for not going to attend the conference next week in Westport.

HELEN MCENTEE HAS said this morning that she asked the Garda Representative Association (GRA) to reconsider their refusal to invite the Garda Commissioner to their conference – she denied she was taking sides in refusing to attend also.

Last night The Journal revealed that the Justice Minister for not going to attend the conference next week in Westport. 

In a statement this evening a spokesman for the Minister said that she would not be attending. McEntee had attended the event last year. 

The GRA voted on 15 February with a large majority to snub Drew Harris, citing a “breakdown in trust”. 

There has been a worsening relationship between the Commissioner and the GRA in the last twelve months over a number of issues, including rosters, discipline and unachievable administrative tasks. 

Last September, the GRA membership also voted overwhelmingly to express no confidence in the Commissioner, with 98.7% of the 85% member turnout voting ‘no’, a record return for the organisation.  

The Justice Minister was speaking on 96FM in Cork this morning and said she had asked the garda representative group to “reconsider” because issues around rostering, pay negotiations and internal garda administration systems were being dealt with. 

She said: “ I engage regularly with the GRA and I’ve met them only in recent weeks.

“What I had asked often was to reconsider their not inviting of the Garda commissioner to the conference, for reasons that much of the issues that they had raised under the reasoning for not inviting him, those issues are being worked through.

“So around the roster, pay negotiations, you know, concerns they had raised on new online systems. Much of these issues are being resolved.”

In this morning’s comments McEntee said tacitly admitted she wasn’t attending in support of the Garda Commissioner. 

“I think it’s really important that I as Minister for Justice, uphold the office of the Garda Commissioner, the Commissioner is appointed by government. And it’s really important that the Commissioner and the representative organisations can engage, can work through any issue.

“He is head of the organisation. And I believe that being at a conference and the opportunity to be able to work through and resolve and to respond to questions that members have that is the best way to do it,” he added. 

She said she was “absolutely not” taking sides in the row and said she would continue to engage with the GRA.

Sources have told The Journal that behind the scenes the advice in Justice was that McEntee should not attend the event as it would undermine the Commissioner. 


This morning the GRA released a statement and said it was “baffling” that the Minister had refused to attend. 

The GRA said that the refusal to attend was “extremely disappointing and shows a clear lack of understanding of the issues that are affecting our members”.

“The invite to Conference was sent months ago, yet just six days prior to the Conference the Minister has informed us that she will not attend.

“While we can accept that the Minister has a busy schedule, the reasoning for her non-appearance was not a prior, more pressing engagement but instead, a show of solidarity and support for the Garda Commissioner who had not been extended an invitation,” the statement read. 

The GRA said that McEntee’s behaviour was in contrast to recent comments by the Taoiseach Simon Harris of support for gardaí.  

“Over the past 12 months, Minister McEntee has publicly stated her belief that the only way to resolve issues was to get parties engaged around a table, yet she has now turned down that opportunity to join the primary platform for issues that face gardaí on the frontline.

“An Taoiseach Simon Harris stated two weeks ago that he intends to make law and order one of his main priorities which makes the decision of his key Minister all the more baffling,” the GRA statement concluded. 

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