Callinan condemns inspectors’ walkout

Garda Commissioner to examine inspectors’ protest during speech by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter

Delegates at the AGSI conference in the Clarion Hotel in Sligo, yesterday. Photograph: James Connolly/PicSell

Delegates at the AGSI conference in the Clarion Hotel in Sligo, yesterday. Photograph: James Connolly/PicSell

Wed, Mar 27, 2013, 06:00

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has condemned a small number of Garda sergeants and inspectors who walked out during a speech by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and said he plans to “examine” the protest.

Mr Callinan has also requested a report into an incident in which an off-duty member challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny while he was campaigning on Monday as part of the Meath East byelection.

Incident in Ratoath
“I’ve already sought a report and I’m going to have a look at it when I receive the report,” he said of the incident in Ratoath. “People are entitled to consult with their politicians and to challenge them. I’m sure the Taoiseach was well able to deal with that situation but of course I’m going to have a look at it to see if there are any issues there for me to deal with.”

Those who walked out during the speech by Mr Shatter at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) in Sligo on Monday night were from the Carlow-Kilkenny Garda division. They also walked out for Mr Callinan’s speech yesterday.

They did so after being mandated by their members to express their lack of confidence in both men at the conference, which was due to conclude this afternoon. The commissioner is said to be furious over the matter and about a subsequent interview in which the delegates explained they had no confidence in Mr Shatter.

“It is regrettable that that has happened; I don’t condone for a moment that that had happened and it shouldn’t have happened,” Mr Callinan said.

“It was inappropriate and I have indicated that to the president of the executive.”

Regarding the walkout during Mr Shatter’s speech, he said he would examine it in “the cold light of day”.

“These are emotive times, particularly at the association conferences. But showing disrespect to the Minister of the day and commissioner of the day is not on as far as I’m concerned. I don’t expect it from members of sergeant or inspector rank.”

‘Air now cleared’
Mr Callinan also reiterated his warning to AGSI not to send out circulars encouraging its members not to report for overtime duty as part of their protest over proposed pay cuts. However, he believed “the air has now been cleared” on that matter.

AGSI general secretary John Redmond has distanced himself from the walkout, saying it was a step too far.  

AGSI members yesterday passed a motion calling on Mr Callinan to reintroduce into service the Uzi submachine gun after it was withdrawn two years ago.

Insp Walter Kilcullen from Lucan Garda station in Co Dublin said he believed the withdrawal of the weapons was akin to asking gardaí on traffic duties to return their motorbikes.

Powerful weapon
Furthermore, he believed the fact Det Garda Adrian Donohoe did not have a more powerful weapon than the Sig pistol he was carrying at the time of his murder in Co Louth in January may have been the difference between being shot dead or surviving.

“Maybe that night, if he had an Uzi submachine gun what happened may not have happened,” Insp Kilcullen told delegates. “The appearance of the Uzi submachine gun is more intimidating and powerful than a Sig handgun.”