McDowell warns gardai over reserve threat


The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has issued a firm warning to gardai who block the roll-out of the controversial Garda Reserve.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) yesterday claimed that the part-time force would be shunned by its officers.

GRA general secretary PJ Stone, who has led opposition to the Reserve since it was first mooted in mid-2005, said his organisation would take further action to block it next month.

The Justice Department claims some 6,661 people have applied to join the reservists which will assist gardai with foot patrols, traffic checkpoints and other duties.

Responding to Mr Stone's comments, Mr McDowell said he reported the remarks to the Garda Commissioner.

The minister warned that there were "quick and effective remedies" for anybody who challenged the authority of the Garda or the Government.

"I have spoken to the Garda Commissioner in relation to reported remarks attributed to the General Secretary of the GRA and asked him for an early report on the matter.

"I am satisfied that, under the recent Garda Act which provided for the establishment of the Reserve, there are quick and effective remedies in relation to anyone who would publicly threaten from within the cohesion and effectiveness of the Garda or challenge the authority of the Garda Commissioner and the Government in the way reported.

"I also believe that the vast majority of the Gardai would, once again, be badly embarrassed and feel themselves ill served by remarks of the kind attributed to Mr Stone."

The Reserve is also being opposed by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

The first intake of Garda Reserves will graduate on December 16 and will be subject to a probationary period of two years.

Five initial pilot areas have been selected for the Garda Reserve: Anglesea Street, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Store Street and Pearse Street, Dublin.

A Garda Reserve will be required to work a minimum of 208 hours per year, with minimum four-hour shifts.