Gardaí vote to bar top brass from meeting

In a further escalation in their dispute with Garda management, rank-and-file members of the force have taken an unprecedented vote to bar their commissioner, Martin Callinan, and other members of Garda management from the forthcoming annual general meeting of the Garda Representative Association (GRA).

Up to 100 members of the Cork North Garda Division’s GRA branch voted unanimously for this action last night at a meeting in the Vienna Woods Hotel, Glanmire.

They also endorsed a meeting organised by their counterparts in Cork City last week which voted no confidence in the commissioner and the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter.

While no-confidence motions in previous ministers for justice were not uncommon, it was the first time in the history of the force that such a motion was passed against the most senior member of the gardaí.

The frontline gardaí from the Cork North Garda Division — which serves North and East Cork — went a step further last night when they voted to bar members of the Association of Chief Superintendents and representatives of the Superintendents’ Association from attending the annual GRA conference which is scheduled to take place in Westport, Co Mayo, at the end of April.

It has been common courtesy since the GRA was founded in 1978 to invite representatives from such associations to their annual conference.

Speakers from the floor expressed their concern that members of the force’s management “were not standing up to their political masters” and rubber-stamping the Government’s cuts to pay, conditions and resources.

Younger members of the force with families and large mortgages were to the fore when it came to their objections to a further diminution of their pay and conditions.

But they were also backed resoundingly by more seasoned veterans who feel that the whole force is being undermined in its ability to serve the public.

GRA president John Parker — who as a Mallow-based garda is also a member of the Cork North Garda Division — described the meeting as “very, very hot, very intense and full of emotions with tempers flaring”.

“The members [of the force] present there were willing to take all actions necessary to fight pay cuts,” he said.

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