Gardaí to escalate ‘goodwill’ protest as Croke Park II talks enter end stage

More than 11,000 rank-and-file gardaí will today escalate their “turn off the goodwill” protest against the proposed cuts to premium pay by refraining from using any personal effects during their working day.

Officers, members of the Garda Representative Association, will not use personal cars while on duty or personal mobile phones, laptops, and cameras, while home telephone numbers will not be left with stations to take calls when off duty.

They will only drive official Garda vehicles when on duty and officers who have not passed the full driver training courses will not drive official cars. Elsewhere, protests will be staged at official events for the EU presidency.

Yesterday, members of the GRA executive, including general secretary PJ Stone, mounted pickets outside Lansdowne House in Dublin where talks are continuing on an extension to the Croke Park Agreement.

In those talks, the focus in recent days has been on the wage level above which pay cuts are to be introduced. It is likely the figure will be between €60,000 and €70,000; sources believe somewhere in the middle of those two figures. They also say the overall talks on Croke Park II could be completed within a few days.

Meanwhile, gardaí are to get rid of the intercom systems which link the public living in rural areas to officers in the nearest major station.

The public access call box system (PACB), which was originally dubbed the “green man” and later the “blue man”, was introduced more than 30 years ago. It meant that when rural stations were closed, members of the public could get straight through to a 24-hour station.

Now, as part of a cost savings drive, gardaí have already started dismantling the intercoms in various parts of the country. A Garda spokesman said the system was designed and implemented in the 1980s “when there were fewer methods of communication available to the general public”.

“A review of the PACB system and its usage was carried out and it was found that the vast majority of these units are rarely if ever used and so were considered for removal. This is being carried out in a phased basis as there were 550 units installed in sub-district Garda stations.

“This number was reduced by 38 last year and a further 412 units are in the process of being removed. The remaining units will be reviewed on an ongoing basis with a view to completely withdrawing the system this year.”

The spokesman said that as the units were supplied under a rental contract, he could not disclose the cost of that contract or how much it would save, though it is understood to be €6,000 per year.

When asked if an alternative system will now be put in place, the spokesman said all gardaí on duty carry a Tetra radio which provides a “national robust communications system which allows the calls to be relayed to them”.

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