Shatter faces cool response at conference
Agsi annual conference set to be dominated by debate on ‘Government neglect’ of force
Members of the Garda representative bodies, GRA (Garda Representative Association) and Agsi (Association of Garda Sergents and Inspectors) protesting last week against proposed cuts in pay under the new Croke Park agreement. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter appears set for a mixed reception at the annual delegate conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi), where debate is expected to be dominated by the perceived neglect of the force under the current Government.
The sergeants and inspectors are calling on the Government to desist from the threatened pay cut for Garda members. They will also discuss how they might withdraw from the reform of Garda work practices already underway as part of the original Croke Park agreement.
Any move to withdraw from the implementation of new Garda rostering currently being piloted under the agreement, for example, would represent a serious escalation to Agsi's current protest over threats of further reductions to their salary and allowances.
In recent weeks sergeants and inspectors have joined their rank and file colleagues in refusing to use their personal property – including mobile phones, laptops and vehicles – for work purposes.
The decision to stop using their mobile phones has impacted on communication between Garda members, especially in circumstances where they would normally be available to be contacted off duty.
Mr Shatter is due to address delegates at the conference in Sligo town during the opening session this evening. He will reply to the address by Agsi president Tim Galvin which is expected to be critical of Mr Shatter and of Government policy towards Garda pay, depleted Garda resourcing and the lack of any recruitment.
Over the course of the conference, which runs until Wednesday afternoon, delegates will discuss a range of motions on pay and resourcing, with speakers set to call on delegates to direct Agsi's national executive to resist any more pay cuts.
A motion by members from the Cork west division asks delegates to consider further ways to protest against and counteract proposed pay cuts, while also urging withdrawal from the reform process under way under the original Croke Park agreement.
Motions from the Clare division, the Cork City division and the Wexford division raise the prospect of withdrawing from the Croke Park reform process, or “revised action plan” for the Garda force.
Some of the programme for the conference is also taken up by the contentious issue of Garda premium payments, with a motion from the Wicklow division urging the Agsi national executive to have the payments included in basic pay.