Fitzgerald warns about ‘detrimental’ effects of Garda strike

Frances Fitzgerald stresses that ‘real constraints’ limit options on public pay

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has warned about the fallout from the threatened industrial action by gardaí.

“In the event that it proceeds, such action would be unprecedented, and would create long-lasting detrimental effects on the Garda organisation, Garda morale and on public confidence,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald, who is Minister for Justice, told the Seanad she was doing everything to find a resolution “within the very real constraints’’ in terms of public sector pay.

She said she was very disappointed the Garda Representative Association (GRA) had rejected an agreement reached with her department in recent weeks and had announced its plan to take industrial action.

Lansdowne Road

It was also disappointing the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) was contemplating similar action, particularly in view of the very positive outcome of their recent ballot on the Lansdowne Road agreement.

Ms Fitzgerald said she had met with the GRA and AGSI last week to hear first-hand their outstanding concerns: “Those meetings were constructive and I will continue to facilitate further engagement.’’

She said the agreement reached with the GRA had addressed in a very positive way the issues raised in negotiation over a number of months.

The agreement contained very significant benefits, said Ms Fitzgerald, including the restoration of the rent allowance worth over €4,000 annually to new recruits, and also the lifting of the increment freeze in place since July 1st.

"It would be most unfortunate if, rather than engaging further, action was to be contemplated that would not be in the best interests of our communities or An Garda Síochána, '' she added.

She said gardaí, like all public servants, played a significant part in stabilising the public finances and bringing about economic recovery.

They were subject to the same pay reductions as all other public servants during the financial crisis and had similarly benefited from the partial restoration of pay on foot of the Lansdowne Road agreement.

Ms Fitzgerald added the Government was conscious the association was frustrated at the pace of pay restoration.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times