‘Time to get real’ on how Garda members feeling - AGSI chief

Initiatives to address welfare and morale among gardaí being developed for 2016

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has revealed results of a survey which found 86 per cent of its members, based on a 27 per cent sample, felt morale was either low or very low. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has revealed results of a survey which found 86 per cent of its members, based on a 27 per cent sample, felt morale was either low or very low. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

New initiatives aimed at addressing welfare and morale within An Garda Síochána are being developed for next year.

Commitments on areas of concern were given by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the end of a period shaped by low morale, wage cuts and reviews outlining serious shortfalls in the country’s police service.

Details of a “wellness strategy” and a “reward and recognition system” for gardaí are currently being worked out.

On Thursday, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) revealed results of a survey which found 86 per cent of its members, based on a 27 per cent sample, felt morale was either low or very low.

Its members also felt they are often not acknowledged or supported by members of upper management.

‘Sad reflection’

In a statement following the meeting, the AGSI said Ms O’Sullivan described the results as “a sad reflection on how members feel - and we need to close this gulf”.

“While we welcome the opportunity to have met with the Commissioner, our members’ concerns remain our priority,” the association said.

“They fear inaction and we certainly hope this will not be what transpires in the months to come from Garda management.”

Addressing a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, the Garda Inspectorate said the time was now right to initiate systemic change in the force, as highlighted in its report Changing Policing in Ireland, which is highly critical of the organisation’s inability to cope under outdated structures.

Several issues

The AGSI had raised several issues with Ms O’Sullivan during the meeting, including work overload upon its members and an increase in responsibility and duties, referred to as “role creep”.

Ms O’Sullivan advised that these areas were being examined by the executive director of human resources.

The AGSI has said its members would not increase working hours next year as set out in the Haddington Road agreement.

“It’s time to get real and to face the reality of how our members are feeling, but more importantly why they are feeling disillusioned,” said Tim Galvin, AGSI president.

He said low morale had also stemmed from the representative organisation having no direct negotiating role in pay and conditions.