Gardaí question legality of any move to impose pension penalty

GRA chief Ciarán O’Neill questions whether Horgan proposals ‘fair, just, legal or lawful’

The AGSI described the Horgan report as a “missed opportunity” to forensically examine pay, allowances and industrial relations matters in the Garda organisation.

The AGSI described the Horgan report as a “missed opportunity” to forensically examine pay, allowances and industrial relations matters in the Garda organisation.

 

Garda organisations have questioned the legality of any move to impose pension sanctions on their members if they engaged in strike action.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) also contended that the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had both raised objections about the recommendation when it was first put forward by former Labour Court chairman John Horgan in private discussions some time ago.

GRA president Ciarán O’Neill questioned whether the proposal was “fair, just, legal or lawful”.

The AGSI said it had obtained legal advice on the issue and also questioned whether any such move would be lawful.

The AGSI described the Horgan report as a “missed opportunity” to forensically examine pay, allowances and industrial relations matters in the Garda organisation”

It criticised Mr Horgan as being “irresponsible” for using “rough and ready calculations” of Garda pay – which he acknowledged in his report. The AGSI argued the pay figures set out in the report were “grossly overestimated”.

AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said it was clear from the report that there was still confusion about how Garda pay should be dealt with. She said the Horgan report did not provide enough clarity.”

She said Mr Horgan had suggested the Garda bodies should go into the forthcoming Public Service Pay Commission on a “suck it and see approach”, but on the other hand also put forward three other key points for examining pay which her organisation welcomed.

Equal status

She said these were that it should be “a fixed and periodic operation and review”, that it should afford the Garda representative associations and the official side maximum possible involvement in the design and implementation of the process and that it should be specifically designed for An Garda Síochána and deal exclusively with Garda pay”

The GRA said in its response to the report said if gardaí were to be given equal status with other public servants in the forthcoming Public Service Pay Commission this must include the right to withdraw their labour.

The GRA said it had sought trade union status since 1993 and in the intervening years it has been repeatedly denied.

“Without the full collective bargaining rights, including the right to withdraw labour, members have been repeatedly abused by the civil power utilising the codes and regulations of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.”

Mr O’Neill said: “We are still awaiting trade union status with the associated civil rights including full collective bargaining, which includes the freedom to strike.

“The current generation of gardaí are aware of international ideas and has shown an increased level of discontent towards the draconian and unnecessary impediments to the civil rights of the membership. The civil, social and industrial rights afforded police officers across the Europe, Scandinavia, North America, Australia and New Zealand has demonstrated how far behind Ireland is, and needs to catch up.

“For gardaí to be afforded equal status with other public servants in the upcoming Public Service Pay Commission this must include rights of affiliation and the attendant freedom to withdraw labour.”