Garda chiefs order removal of posters opposing reserve force

Garda chiefs have ordered the removal of all posters in stations advertising meetings organised to oppose the introduction of a reserve force, it was claimed tonight.

Organisations representing rank-and-file gardaí and officers alleged they were told to take down the posters in accordance with a 30-year-old rule at a meeting with management.

The Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors met with management after posters informing members of forthcoming meetings in Cork, Portlaoise and Dublin went up.

PJ Stone, General Secretary of the GRA, said this was the first time the internal Garda rule from the 1970s, which requires permission for any posters to be placed in Garda buildings, has been enforced.

“No other representative body would have to put up with this kind of shenanigans,” he said.

“And what makes this all the more galling is we are supposed to be independent of the political establishment.

“Yet the motive for issuing this edict is quite clearly politically motivated. We are being denied the right to inform our members of matters that are of the utmost importance to their careers.

“We are a statutory body set up to represent gardai in all matters affecting their welfare and efficiency and these kind of antics from our own management are simply not acceptable.”

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell restated his intention to introduce a Garda Reserve Force earlier this week, but the move has been consistently opposed by Garda representative organisations, which have organised meetings around the country to protest against the scheme.

Mr Stone said it was also made clear to the representative bodies at today’s meeting that the proposal to set up the reserve force came from the Government via the Department of Justice.

He called on Mr McDowell to publish all correspondence between the Department and Garda management on the matter in order to establish who proposed the idea initially.

“The Garda Commissioner informed us this morning that senior management were committed to implementing Government policy and abiding by the law in respect of the Garda Reserve,” he said.

“This statement is vastly different from what Michael McDowell has repeatedly said, in that it was the Commissioner who proposed the Reserve.

“They are at odds with one another on what we believe is an important issue - the veracity of the minister’s statements on the topic.”

The first meeting organised jointly by the GRA and AGSI was held in Sligo last Monday and further meetings are due to be held in Cork, Portlaoise and Dublin over the next few weeks.

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