THE Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors is to hold a special conference in June to discuss industrial action if the Government does not commit to pay restoration.
AGSI general secretary John Jacob called on delegates at the association’s annual conference in Westport to march on the Dáil. He said he was prepared to go to jail for initiating strike action, something that is illegal for a garda to do.
It is disturbing to consider the prospect of the enforcers of the law being prepared to break it. If they carry out their threat, it would make the position of every member of the force all but untenable. While gardaí would retain the legal right to enforce the law, they would lose the moral force behind it.
The frustration shown by the AGSI is, perhaps, indicative of a greater malaise within the force.
The Garda Inspectorate report of last December urged a root-and-branch reform but there is little sign of that happening. In fact, things are getting worse.
It is little wonder that morale is at an all-time low, and it isn’t all about pay. The closure of rural Garda stations lost a vital community link on which the Garda Siochána once thrived.
Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan needs to be more forceful not just in supporting members under her command but in ensuring that they retain the respect of the public.