THE Garda Representative Association (GRA) is to go ahead with plans for a ballot for industrial action despite a direct warning from Commissioner Fachtna Murphy that by doing so they face criminal prosecution.
Late yesterday afternoon, Garda Commissioner Murphy and Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning met with the GRA’s president, Michael O’Boyce, and general secretary PJ Stone.
At the meeting, Commissioner Murphy set out his “grave concerns” about the proposed GRA ballot, which contravenes the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
The commissioner presented Mr Stone with a letter spelling out the potential civil and criminal legal implications, as set out by the Attorney General, for him and his members if the ballot goes ahead.
The letter will be discussed at a meeting of the GRA central executive today and tomorrow.
However, a GRA spokesman last night said the organisation intended to continue with plans for a ballot on industrial action, which could take place before Christmas.
He added: “We await what happens in the budget. The Government still has an opportunity to rethink their proposed cutbacks.”
The GRA are demanding that there be no further cutbacks to Garda pay due to the legal restrictions on members of the force taking up supplementary employment and the prospect of disciplinary procedures if they get into debt.
Upping the pressure on the Government, the 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance, which represents nurses, prison officers and the Garda representative bodies, stated that all its constituent bodies support a GRA demand for full union rights.
Alliance chairman Des Kavanagh said that other affiliated unions “fully understand the anger and frustration” of the gardaí.
Mr Kavanagh stated that the failure to grant the two Garda representative organisations, the GRA and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, full union status, was a “hangover from the days when the role of a national police force was that of a coercive agency for repressive and undemocratic regimes”.
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