AGSI: Horgan Report was rushed and 'lacks clarity'

AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham.

The Horgan Report may have been delayed by more than two years before its eventual publication yesterday, but the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors dismissed it as “rushed” and lacking clarity as to how to resolve issues affecting the force.

In the report its author, John Horgan, makes a number of key recommendations, including:

  • That industrial relations should be ‘normalised’;
  • The Garda Representative Association and AGSI should become trade unions;
  • Garda management should be given responsibility for industrial relations;
  • An Garda Síochána and representative associations should conclude a dispute resolution agreement;
  • All should have access to protective employment law, including the right to avail of the processes of the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court;
  • All parties should agree to no strikes or other industrial action.

He said any member of the gardaí who engages in strikes or industrial action should be ineligible for pension accrual for five years and that all parties should engage with the Public Service Pay Commission.

He also said recent Labour Court recommendations have pre-empted any substantive findings on pay or allowances.

Mr Horgan said: “An Garda Síochána (AGS) provides the citizens of Ireland with an excellent police service by any standard... The members of An Garda Síochána perform a difficult and often dangerous job that is unique in Irish society and all its members deserve to be rewarded appropriately.

“I must recognise that the unique nature of police work requires special features that must be accommodated in the AGS industrial relations system.”

But he added: “Strikes should not happen in the police force, especially as this is a monopoly service and the national security service is part of the police service.”

Responding to publication of the report, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, said: “The recent industrial relations difficulties in An Garda Síochána make it imperative that we find new and better ways of doing our business and the Horgan Review will provide a valuable input into the drafting of the legislation that the Government is committed to enacting to give the garda associations statutory access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.”

AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham, however, said the report was based on “crude figures” and claimed it was “a rushed report which failed to address the key elements of the terms of reference”.

“The main recommendation is around penalties for gardaí if strike action is taken in the future,” she said.

“But surely, the framework to prevent threatened strike is what the report should have dealt with and not penalties based on the lack of clear industrial relations mechanisms.”

She told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme that overtime was a “necessary evil” which effectively skewed the earning figures for members.

There are currently 54 allowances but not all gardaí are eligible for all of them and many are mutually exclusive.

Ms Cunningham said her members were happy to discuss some of those being amalgamated, but said one of the important points made in the report was the view that gardaí were “a special case”.

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