A large number of delegates to the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) yesterday hit out at both Justice Minister Michael McDowell and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy over the reserve.
Eddie Murphy of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) South Central said the voluntary reserve was a step too far and part of a “number-crunching exercise” for the next election.
“The reserve will attract a mixed grill of quasi do-gooders and messianic zealots,” he said.
He likened the reserve to “PlayStation police”.
Delegates were debating a motion calling for a policy of non-cooperation with the reserve force.
James Doddy of Garda Headquarters said the voluntary body was “political posturing” of the worst kind, which the Justice Minister was forcing on them.
“I hate bullies and I hate schoolyard bullies. We are dealing with an archtypical schoolyard bully with McDowell and his minions.”
Proposing the motion, Fergus O’Brien of Wexford/Wicklow said the association was entitled to voice its concerns.
“We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship,” he said.
Seamus Gallagher of Limerick said members in his branch were “totally outraged” by the proposal and claimed local TDs and ministers were personally against the idea.
Dermot O’Shea, Kerry, described the reservists as “hobby bobbies”.
But a considerable number of delegates, mainly from the DMR, expressed caution about adopting a policy of non-cooperation and urged the motion to be remitted to the national executive for proper debate.
Larry Brady of DMR North Central said it would be “wrong” to adopt such a policy out of hand.
“We have no great objection to the proposed notion of a reserve, we’re not against it in principle.”
But he said there were huge logistical problems to implementing it.
Eamonn Landy, DMR East, urged both sides to stop the megaphone diplomacy. He said he did not find it “reprehensible” that people might want to contribute to the reserve, but asked how they would be trained.
He said that within five years, 40% of the force would have less than five years’ experience and that more sergeants and inspectors were needed.
AGSI president Paschal Feeney said that if a policy of non-cooperation was adopted, a letter would be sent out to all members setting out the policy and senior management would be put on notice of any action.
After a recount, the motion was passed 71-58, including 13 votes from the national executive.
Two other linked motions were passed by a larger majority.