Views from the AGSI conference: What’s making gardaí blue
‘Pay is the big issue. Members simply don’t have the money to pay their bills’
Sgt Tony McCarthy at the AGSI conference: “Recruitment hasn’t kept up with retirements and we’ve lost a lot of experienced people”. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
Sgt Albert Bell at the AGSI conference: “I think nowadays there is less understanding from the public, maybe they are less sympathetic”. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
Sgt Karen Grogan at the AGSI conference: “The [new recruit] I have in my unit, he doesn’t have a car because he simply can’t afford it”. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
Insp Ronan Kennelly at the AGSI conference: “The heroin problem has trickled towards the availability levels in Dublin when I was there in the 1980s”. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
Sgt Tony McCarthy
Skibbereen Garda station, 34 years’ service
Pay is the big issue. We were promised a restoration of our pay and that hasn’t happened. Members simply don’t have the money to pay their bills.
There’s been an improvement with new cars, but our manpower is down. Recruitment hasn’t kept up with retirements and we’ve lost a lot of experienced people who would have taken on a mentoring role for the new young recruits.
A lot of older members have retired because of the new roster system. It’s very physically demanding; you work six days in a row on 10-hour shifts. The older you get the harder it is to do that; you work 60 hours in six days. There’s been a huge loss of corporate knowledge from the job and you can see that on the ground.
Sgt Albert Bell
Bridewell, Dublin, 30 years’ service
I think nowadays there is less understanding from the public, maybe they are less sympathetic, and I think they are more demanding. We are also subjected to so much more scrutiny now and oversight from various bodies.
Sadly there’s less respect for gardaí than there was when I joined; there’s more aggression towards us. You have more cases of people turning on gardaí in attacks, in many cases under the influence of drink and drugs.
The public don’t realise the fears and the dangers we face. It is an isolating position when you are left there on your own dealing with drunk and aggressive people. You know help isn’t going to arrive for some time.
And obviously pay is a big issue.
Sgt Karen Grogan
Longford Garda station, 24 years’ experience
Pay is the biggest of the issues it’s a long time since [pay was reduced in ]2008. While there is a recovery, the general election was fought on it. But none of it is coming down to gardaí. Anyone I know hasn’t seen that recovery. But as bad as we are, it is even harder for the new younger people starting with €23,000.
We’ve just gotten five new people in Longford and to say that they are enthusiastic; it’s great to see it. The guy I have in my unit, he doesn’t have a car because he simply can’t afford it.
He’s lucky enough that the rent prices or house prices in Longford are not like what they are in Dublin or he’d be really stuck. I don’t know how he would manage or how any of the new young people are managing in Dublin.
Insp Ronan Kennelly
Anglesea Street, Cork city, 31 years’ service
Pay is a huge factor for us but resources are too. The rosters are an issue; you work six days on and four off. It presents challenges in terms of the continuity of investigations.
The more serious investigations are picked up straight away by the unit coming on to their six days. But with the less serious cases, it can lead to delays and a perception from the community they are not getting the professionalism or type of service they are demanding.
The greater availability of drugs is also an issue; heroin and psychoactive drugs are available on the internet. The heroin problem has trickled towards the availability levels in Dublin when I was there in the 1980s. And it has impacted on crime in Cork city.