Senior gardai also to protest at levy

 

GARDA SERGEANTS and inspectors are to follow the example of rank and file colleagues in taking to the streets of Dublin to demonstrate against the Government’s controversial pensions levy.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) says it is encouraging its members to take part in the Ictu’s day of protest in the city centre tomorrow.

The move follows confirmation earlier this week by the Garda Representative Association (GRA) that it is staging a mass rally for its members in Dublin city centre next Wednesday.

The AGSI and GRA protests represent the first time that members of the force have taken to the streets since 1998, when they protested in a row over pay.

AGSI general secretary Joe Dirwan said he was calling on all of his members not due on duty tomorrow to join the Ictu protest march from Parnell Square to Dáil Éireann.

The decision by AGSI to urge its members to join the march is unusual because it is a representative association rather than a union.

“Our executive views the march as an opportunity for AGSI to demonstrate not only our anger at the effects on our own situation in the public service, but to express our abhorrence of what has gone on in the financial sector,” Mr Dirwan said.

The decision to march had been taken following “unprecedented” feedback to AGSI’s head office, by phone and e-mail, regarding “the outrage felt at the unjust pay cut imposed by Government under the guise of a pensions levy”.

Added Mr Dirwan: “It is a pay cut, pure and simple and, if it goes ahead, our junior colleagues will be paying it for years. We have no problem paying our fair share, but we feel that the upper echelons of our public, private and political sectors are getting off far too lightly.”

The levy will result in AGSI members’ annual incomes being reduced by between €5,000 and €6,000, he said. Both AGSI and the GRA have complained that the reduction in take-home pay is happening at a time when policing is becoming more challenging and after a period of rapid reform and increased productivity across the force.

AGSI has held talks with Ictu officials and is meeting with opposition party finance spokespersons as disquiet over the pensions levy grows within the Garda. The association is also engaged in discussions on the issue with the GRA, the Irish Nurses’ Organisation and other trade unions.