Gardaí right to strike upheld by Council of Europe

Government says industrial action would raise ‘serious issues’

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors complained over the Government ban on their participation in trade union action. Photograph: Frank Miller

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors complained over the Government ban on their participation in trade union action. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

The Council of Europe has upheld an earlier ruling permitting members of the Garda Síochána to strike and participate in trade union action.

In a ruling by the Committee of Ministers – the council’s main decision-making body – the human rights organisation reiterated the findings of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) in May which ruled gardaí­ should be permitted to strike, negotiate pay and engage in union action.

That ruling followed a complaint by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors over the Government ban on their participation in trade union action. In its decision yesterday, the Strasbourg-based body said it was awaiting a further response from the Government.

But in its initial response to the ECSR’s decision, the Government said providing gardaí with the right to strike “would raise the most serious issues in respect of the capacity of the State to ensure the maintenance of law and order”.

In a submission to the Council of Europe in June, the Government stated that An Garda Síochána’s right to strike was “a particularly sensitive and difficult issue”. Noting only a “narrow margin” within the ECSR had voted in favour, the Government said it would only be in the “full knowledge of all aspects of this issue that full and careful consideration can be given to any proposed change in the present arrangements”.

As regards the council’s finding Ireland was in breach of two articles of the charter in relation to gardaí participation in employee representative groups and the right to collective bargaining, the Government said these were being dealt with in the ongoing review into the Garda.