Gardaí may mount a legal challenge against government moves to curtail pay and bonuses ahead of the conclusion of the current Croke Park pay agreement.
Gardaí and middle-ranking officers joined forces yesterday outside the Dáil in protest at government moves to cut pay.
There were calls for Justice Minister Alan Shatter to engage in talks with members who have vowed to continue a protest of resistance against reductions in their earnings.
Garda bodies pulled out of the Croke Park extension talks last month.
Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) general secretary John Redmond yesterday said members would continue a show of resistance.
“We want to get the message to Government that we’re not for moving. We’re resisting these cuts. Our members are fed up with paying and they’ve no more to give. Our people are on the bottom. Morale is on the ground.
“As far as we’re concerned, we will take whatever legal challenge we have to take in order to protect our position under Croke Park One.”
“If Government want to continue to play megaphone politics by going through the newspapers and the media to get their message to us and try to divide the public against us, we will raise the ante as well,” Mr Redmond said.
The AGSI was told last week by garda headquarters to desist from protesting and encouraging dissent or they could face criminal investigation for their actions and disciplinary measures.
But Mr Redmond added: “I’m going to do what I’m expected to do and let’s see where that goes.”
AGSI members stood alongside members of the central executive committee of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) yesterday as both groups protested outside the gates of Leinster House.
Behind the banners reading “Shattered by cuts”, “Senator loses €600, garda loses €2,500. Fair?” stood officers who openly spoke of how cuts would affect their life and the lives of their family.
Garda Stephen McDonagh, 42, who has worked in the force 18 years, said caring for his four children was becoming increasingly challenging with budget cuts.
“My eldest son is sitting his Leaving Cert and trying to entertain him going to college is just going to be a nightmare,” said the traffic corps member.
He said cuts in premium, Sunday and evening pay would affect his payments.
GRA general secretary PJ Stone said: “What we’re doing here today is showing that this problem is not going to go away. In fact, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
“Eventually, as it will, somebody will have to deal with it. Because when it gets out of control, to the extent that we’re not in control of it, then we’ve a problem.”
Mr Stone said the GRA would not be balloting members on the Croke Park extension proposals. The agreement was still in place until 2014, he said.
Fianna Fáil said it was an unprecedented move for gardaí to protest outside Leinster House.
Justice spokesman Niall Collins called on Mr Shatter to reopen talks with gardaí: “They feel they are being singled out, being treated unfairly and differently. They see in Alan Shatter a minister who is providing for them no leadership and doesn’t seem to demonstrate any concern about their welfare.”
A spokesperson for Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore confirmed that as far as the Labour Party leader was concerned, if the Croke Park deal was voted down, that would mean the end of the current arrangement.
The Government would still seek to implement €1bn in public sector pay cuts, starting this year, if the extension of the agreement was rejected, the spokesperson said.
The clarification from Mr Gilmore followed reported remarks that he believed the current arrangements would run their course into 2014 if the new deal on offer was rejected.
Public Expenditure Reform Minister Brendan Howlin had consistently made it clear that the current deal would fall if the new proposals were thrown out.
— Shaun Connolly
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