GRA president raises concerns over association’s ‘militancy’

Lobbying body ‘needs to be looked into before it spins out of control’ – Mulligan

Outgoing GRA president Jim Mulligan says militancy in the organisation includes ‘calls for industrial action at the height of a pandemic’. Photograph: Conor Ó Mearáin

Outgoing GRA president Jim Mulligan says militancy in the organisation includes ‘calls for industrial action at the height of a pandemic’. Photograph: Conor Ó Mearáin

 

The outgoing president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has condemned the “militancy” of the association and has raised his concerns with the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner.

In a strongly worded speech at the GRA’s annual delegate conference, Jim Mulligan said this militancy included “calls for industrial action at the height of a pandemic” and unauthorised lobbying of politicians.

Condemning a “militant rump” which has formed a “shadow [on] GRA”, Mr Mulligan said he could not stand over the behaviour.

He said he recently reported his concerns to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and he met Commissioner Drew Harris on the matter.

“I’m unaware of what further action may be taken but I think this association needs to be looked into before it spins out of control.”

The GRA, which represents some 12,000 rank and file gardaí, held its annual conference online for the first time.

In-fighting

Mr Mulligan’s speech reflects months of in-fighting within the GRA executive. Opponents of Mr Mulligan and the former GRA general secretary Pat Ennis believe the association is not forceful enough on behalf of its members in its dealings with Garda management.

Mr Ennis was effectively deposed as general secretary last February when the GRA executive declined to renew his contract. Deputy general secretary Philip McAnenly is the acting general secretary.

Mr Mulligan said the calling of the conference was a “sham”. He said its main purpose was to remove Mr Ennis from his position because he was insisting on governance and financial oversight reforms.

He described Mr Ennis as the “Ronaldo” of Garda industrial relations. “But we’re now taking him off the pitch. This ill serves our members.”

The morning session saw the unopposed election of Frank Thornton as the new GRA president and Brendan O’Connor as vice-president.

Mr O’Connor said he was “not a militant or radical by any means” but that the current polices of “appeasement and compliance” had failed members.