Senior gardaí agree to suspend industrial action that delayed Gsoc investigations

Officers returning to non-core duties as final resolution to dispute over an allowance

Senior gardaí have agreed to suspend industrial action that has resulted in delays to some Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) investigations.

Superintendents and chief superintendents are returning to non-core duties as a final resolution to a dispute over an availability allowance is awaited.

The development in the long-running dispute was confirmed by Department of Justice secretary general Oonagh McPhillips in a letter to the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

She said the industrial action by the Association of Garda Chief Superintendents and the Association of Garda Superintendents was undertaken as a result of issues relating to the review of the availability allowance paid to gardaí of those ranks.

She said: “This review and associated industrial relations matters have been the subject of extensive engagement at official and ministerial level over a number of years.”

Conciliation service

The matter was before the Labour Court in December 2021 and it recommended all parties to the dispute should engage effectively to reach agreement with the support of the conciliation service of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Ms McPhillips said that "should the parties be unable to reach a final agreement by April 30th, 2022, the matter will be referred back to the Labour Court for a definitive recommendation".

She said engagements at the WRC led to an agreement being reached “on a mechanism to move the matter under dispute forward over the next two months. As part of this agreement, the Association of Garda Chief Superintendents and the Association of Garda Superintendents undertook to suspend their industrial action.

“As a result, it was agreed that the superintendents and chief superintendents will return, on a phased, balanced and realistic basis, to carrying out the activities which they had characterised as being outside of their core duties.

“This includes a return to carrying out relevant Gsoc investigations once again.”

Ms McPhillips added: “This department will continue to work to ensure that a final resolution to the dispute is achieved.”

The senior Garda officers stopped carrying out investigations on behalf of Garda watchdog Gsoc last July as they began working “in strict compliance with the core duties of the Garda code”.

The move was part of a protest at the failure to implement an increase in an existing weekly allowance paid to compensate officers for having to be available outside of regular working hours. The increase had been recommended as part of a review.

Disciplinary investigations

Earlier this month Gsoc told the PAC the dispute has impacted the completion of some disciplinary investigations within the required time lines and “resulted in delays outside the control of Gsoc”. It said no criminal investigations have been impacted.

The ombudsman commission said it had been notified of 81 cases that were not being progressed. However, it also told the Dáil committee it had been advised by the Garda that measures had been put in place to address the backlog.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times