A Government-backed blueprint for Garda reform is on hold after local garda management launched their first ever industrial action.
Plans by Garda HQ to press ahead with overhauling the structures of policing have now been put in doubt.
A major policing conference scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled after the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) said its members would not attend.
The AGS represents the country’s 166 superintendents, the force’s management front line. They operate as district officers and managers of specialist and national units.
The association, which has never before taken any form of industrial action, said it will not assume any additional work. The dispute relates to the refusal of the Government to extend to higher ranks the pay rises given to lower ranks in the talks to avert garda strikes last November.
The AGS said the move meant members promoted from the rank of inspector to superintendent were in the region of €4,000-€6,000 worse off.
The organisation is undergoing significant reform, including under the Government’s Five-Year Reform and High-Level Workforce Plan, which outlines the replacement of the current district model of policing with a divisional model where responsibilities are allocated on a functional basis rather than on a geographical area.
As is stands, local superintendents are district officers and perform all the functions of the district, with numerous districts in each division.
In the new plan, a superintendent would be assigned to a function across the division such as operations, partnership, crime, criminal justice or garda staff.
The Government’s plan is based on the recommendation in the Garda Inspectorate’s ‘Changing Policing in Ireland’ report in November 2015.
The AGS said its members will also not implement any other major reforms — such as those contained in the 2016 Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme.
AGS general secretary Supt Denis Ferry said the issue affects those inspectors who have been promoted to superintendent since January 2017.
He said that around 20 have been promoted to date, and a further 10 or so are expected to be promoted in the coming months.
The AGS estimates that addressing this “anomaly” would cost the exchequer in the region of €1m, on top of the estimated €50m cost of the deal made in November.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said work is ongoing to resolve the issue and that he was incontact with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe on the matter.
“I have met with the Associations about a wide range of issues including their current concerns,” he said. “I greatly value the important work of Garda superintendents and chief superintendents. I want to see this issue resolved as soon as possible and remain available to discuss the matter further with associations.”
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