Garda managers claim relationship with public remains intact

Agsi: Irish people understand the unique contribution’ of gardaí

The Garda’s relationship with the public had not been damaged by its threat to go on strike and Minister Leo Varadkar had been proven wrong in his prediction, Garda managers have said.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) has pointed to the results of a new opinion poll it commissioned as proof the public still supported the Garda.

Agsi president Antoinette Cunningham said while Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar had predicted threatened Garda strikes would 'change their relationship with the public forever'; this had not come to pass.

She also pointed out that 90 per cent of people felt the Garda’s role was a dangerous one, suggesting this was proof that the Irish people understood the force’s contribution and the challenges it faced.


“What is striking from the results is that members of the public understand quite astutely the dangerous and unique role gardaí play in our society,” Ms Cunningham said.

“It was encouraging to see that the public’s relationship with Agsi had not been damaged by our pay campaign and associated withdrawal of labour.”

Agsi and the Garda Representative Association - which combined represent about 12,500 Garda members in a 13,000-strong force - both threatened to strike on four consecutive Fridays last November.

The withdrawal of labour, a strike in all but name, was avoided just before the first day of action was due to begin. A €50 million remuneration package was offered to the associations and was accepted.

On the opening day of the Agsi annual conference in Killarney, Co Kerry, Ms Cunningham revealed the Red C poll had found that 55 per cent of the public support the Garda's right to strike.

She added only 23 per cent of respondents to the poll believed the Garda had been damaged by the threats to strike.

The other 77 per cent believed the threatened strike had had no impact on the Garda’s reputation or had enhanced it.

Opinion on roads policing is split; 43 per cent saying there was insufficient investment in roads policing and 45 per cent saying current resources were sufficient.

Some 80 per cent believe Garda visibility or “presence” was insufficient.

“There is a high level of agreement that there isn’t enough Garda presence these days and that gardaí have a unique and dangerous role,” Ms Cunningham added.

“Eight in 10 agree that there isn’t enough Garda presence nowadays and this is especially evident amongst older age groups.

“When it comes to government investment there is a high level of agreement that they are not investing enough. This disagreement peaks for crime prevention in rural areas, with 7 in 10 agreeing there is not enough.”

The public opinion poll was the first ever conducted for a Garda staff association. It was carried out between March 20th and 23rd. That was before it emerged 14,700 motorists had been wrongly convicted in the courts and the number of breath tests had been inflated by 100 per cent, or one million tests between 2012 and 2016.

The poll interviews were carried out over the phone, with 1,002 respondents.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times