Middle-ranking officers may strike with frontline gardaí

The “nightmare scenario” of middle-ranking officers going on strike on the same days as frontline gardaí is growing increasingly likely, after a second Garda association said it is set to vote on the move.

The Irish Examiner understands the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors will put forward a motion on joining the Garda Representatives Association’s planned strike during a special delegate conference on October 17.

While the AGSI has already confirmed it is considering industrial action, it has until now not suggested striking on the same days — November 4, 11, 18 and 25 — as the separate GRA.

However, despite sources in garda headquarters warning that the situation would be a “nightmare scenario” for the public, AGSI general secretary John Jacob said his association is “ruling nothing in or out” and that “all industrial relations actions” are set to be discussed.

The potential move emerged hours after Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe specifically ruled out any possibility of a garda pay rise to avert the GRA November strikes due to fears taht it would cause a “domino effect” of other union pay requests.

Paschal Donohoe

Responding to suggestions from Siptu president Jack O’Connor that the Lansdowne Road agreement needs to be “adjusted” to allow for garda pay rises, Mr Donohoe said such a move would risk crippling State finances.

“The challenge that I have to manage [as Public Expenditure Minister] is the potential for a domino effect. If we recognise in a different way the needs of one group, every other group then raises their level of need,” he said.

“That is why we are honouring the Lansdowne Road agreement because we have to ensure public wages in the future are affordable for everybody, not just one particular group.”

The view was repeated by a spokesperson for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, is to contact the GRA early next week to open talks on addressing the strike threat.

While Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan also backed the continuation of the Lansdowne Road agreement as it is part of the post-election confidence and supply deal with Fine Gael, he urged Government to begin talks with gardai immediately.

Mr O’Callaghan said officers have “legitimate reasons” for planning industrial action “which have to be addressed by the Tánaiste”.

However, he warned gardai any decision to “engage in unlawful industrial action” would undermine their ability to enforce the law.

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