Garda chief to discuss allowance cuts with staff
THE GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan says he will be entering talks with staff associations on Government proposals to abolish eight allowances for serving personnel.
Mr Callinan told the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts yesterday that he would prefer not to see two pay rates for gardaí as a result of cuts to allowances for new entrants.
He said the Government had also decided that additional allowances were to be eliminated for new beneficiaries.
Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin maintained cuts to allowances for new entrants would mean that gardaí taken on in the future would be on a different pay rate from current personnel.
The commissioner said there was no indication there would be further recruitment for the foreseeable future.
He said that if on foot of future recruitment there were different rates of pay as a result of cuts to allowances for new entrants, it would cause complications but it would have to be managed.
However, Mr Callinan agreed with Ms McDonald that it would “be preferable if that scenario did not play out”.
The general secretary of the Garda Representative Association, PJ Stone, said if this occurred it would create major difficulties.
He said people would be choking each other to get promoted.
The committee heard there were 108 allowances on the books for gardaí, at a cost of €240 million.
However, not all of these allowances are currently paid.
Mr Stone said there were 34 allowances in place for personnel of garda rank.
He urged that the list of allowances be tidied up.
Mr Callinan said some of the allowances currently paid could be subsumed into basic pay.
He said 90 per cent of the Garda budget went on pay, salaries and allowances. Some allowances dated back to the 1920s.
“These allowances recognised the unique nature of the work of An Garda Síochána and were awarded in many instances in lieu of basic pay rises over the years.
“The debate around allowances has particular resonance in An Garda Síochána similar to other public service organisations and indeed has implications for the Croke Park agreement.”
Mr Callinan said that overtime was regarded within the organisation as an allowance.
It was an expenditure that he had to have available over and above normal wages and salaries.
Mr Callinan said eight allowances paid to serving staff had been identified for priority elimination within An Garda Síochána by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
He said these included a clerical allowance, Gaeltacht allowance, Aran Islands allowance, a promotional exam allowance, a change of management allowance, an exam bonus and a bicycle allowance.
In a presentation to the committee, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said: “These allowances form part of the basic pay of our members and are something they cannot do without given the ever-increasing cost of living.
“AGSI cannot countenance any negotiation or buyout of allowances.”