Bullying and burnout ‘rife’ within Garda, according to survey of members who quit force

Garda Representative Association survey of 40 former members describes ‘worrying work culture’ as gardaí feel undervalued and overworked

The Garda organisation is in crisis with officers leaving the force over morale and working conditions, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said.

The GRA said 107 members of garda rank resigned from the force in 2022 and so far this year numbers of those resigning have reached 106, with many of them describing a worrying work culture where bullying, mental stress and burn out were rife.

The GRA challenged previous comments by the Garda Commissioner to the effect that morale in An Garda Síochána was good, saying those who left have spoken of feeling undervalued and over worked.

The GRA said it had decided last March to conduct some 40 interviews with members who left the organisation, a figure which equates to 20 per cent of those who have resigned in the previous 18 months. Garda management had not begun to conduct “exit interviews” with departing members of the force until May 2023, the GRA said.


Tara McManus, assistant to the general secretary of the GRA who carried out the research, said it had been difficult to listen to some of the reasons why people, especially younger officers, were leaving the force.

“Their accounts, however, have provided invaluable insights into the reality of policing, particularly for our younger members who statistically, are more likely to resign,” she said.

“They have described a worrying work culture where bullying, mental stress and burnout, and a sense of vulnerability are rife. They have described feeling undervalued and over worked, and overwhelmingly, describe morale as being at an all-time low within the Garda organisation” she said.

“These issues must now be addressed as matter of urgency to stem the flow of experienced and qualified gardaí out of the Garda organisation,” she added.

Ronan Slevin, general secretary of the GRA, said the interviews uncovered “a real disconnect between our members and senior Garda management. The Commissioner has in the past insisted that there was no issue with morale in the force, however, these testimonies speak volumes”.

Brendan O’Connor, GRA president, said “experiences of bullying, unfair treatment and the fear of discipline which have been cited by those surveyed are something I’ve witnessed colleagues struggle to deal with and the effect can be very detrimental”.

He said “it is now up to Garda management to take heed of the alarm bells and warnings in this research”.

In a statement in response to the GRA issued on Sunday afternoon Garda management said “An Garda Síochána has an anti-bullying policy in place that was agreed with all Garda associations”.

The statement said: “While people leave organisations for a variety of reasons, any resignation is of concern to An Garda Síochána”. It pointed out however that “the resignation rate of Gardaí from the organisation, while increasing, accounts for approximately 1 per cent of the total Garda workforce”.

The Statement said the results of the GRA survey were “noted” but it said it too has conducted 27 voluntary exit interviews since mid 2023 and “is well aware of the issues raised”.

It added that based on feedback from gardaí, An Garda Síochána has introduced a range of measures in recent years to support front-line gardaí including an increase in personal safety equipment; an increase in welfare and mental health supports; a significant increase in front-line supervisors of sergeant and inspector rank.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist