Large vote of no confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris expected to be announced by GRA

Largest Garda staff body has been balloting members since last month with result to be unveiled today in Dublin

The Garda Representative Association is today expected to formally pass a vote of no confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photograph: Tom Honan

The largest Garda staff association is today expected to formally pass a vote of no confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

The move by the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents almost 11,000 rank-and-file gardaí out of the 14,000-strong force, would be unprecedented.

While a vote of no confidence in Mr Harris has no legal standing, and would not force his resignation, sources in Government and Garda Headquarters are concerned it may lead to increased militancy within the ranks.

They are concerned, for example, that a sizeable majority of gardaí voting no confidence in the commissioner would be seen as a mandate for various forms of industrial action, including a withdrawal of service on specific dates, a strike in all but name.


The GRA ballot process closed on Monday and thousands of votes were being counted by auditors on Tuesday. The outcome of the vote is to be announced by the GRA at an event in Dublin today.

Mr Harris has described the GRA’s move to ballot its members as “unnecessary” and questioned the “credibility” of the process. He told The Irish Times last month that he believed the GRA leadership had, in the way they framed the ballot, “predetermined what they think the answer should be”.

Sources within the GRA said there was “huge interest” in the ballot among members over the last four weeks, with many gardaí contacting its office to ensure they received ballot papers. A very clear majority was expected to vote “no confidence” in Mr Harris.

GRA president Brendan O’Connor said more than half the membership would need to cast a vote in order for the result to have “authority”. He said a large turnout was required for the result to become a “mandate” for the GRA leadership and to “inform discussions going forward”.

The GRA announced the vote of no confidence amid a protracted dispute with senior Garda management over new rosters. The GRA wants to maintain current rosters put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, which involve 12-hour shifts in a pattern of four days on/four days off which have proven popular with gardaí.

Mr Harris announced in mid-July that these rosters would be discontinued from November 6th. He dropped plans to introduce new rosters, saying the force would revert to pre-pandemic arrangements.

The GRA decided soon after to hold a vote of no confidence in Mr Harris, but it is also concerned about Garda training, falling numbers in the force and a range of other issues.

A GRA special delegate conference is due to take place on September 27th, at which a plan for further action by the association is set to be devised. If the motion of no confidence is passed, the conference would be expected to explore a range of options for future action.

One GRA source said deciding on a “work to rule” in some circumstances or a withdrawal of service were “hypothetical options at the moment”. Any future action to be taken by the association would have to be carefully considered at the conference, he said.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times