Representative body for garda chiefs ‘not opposed’ to reserves

THE representative body for garda chiefs is “not opposed” to the idea of a Garda Reserve body, according to a spokesman.

But the association is to have further meetings with senior Department of Justice officials to familiarise itself with the Garda Reserve being introduced by Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

A spokesman for the Association of Garda Chief Superintendents (AGCS) said they had a meeting with Mr McDowell to discuss the issue.

“As a result of that meeting we plan to have further discussions with senior official in the department. We’re not opposed to the concept of a garda reserve. It’s a new area for all of us, and obviously as senior managers we’ve got to familiarise ourselves with all aspects of the proposal and the policy and that’s what’s happening,” the AGCS spokesman said.

The policy of the AGCS is in contrast to that of the two garda associations representing lower and middle-ranking police.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) have adopted a joint policy of non-cooperation with the reserve.

The GRA, in particular, has been strongly critical of Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, claiming his leadership had been “absent”.

Tensions increased over the weekend after the Garda Commissioner told the GRA and the AGSI that the reserve was going to be implemented regardless of their opposition.

And Mr McDowell warned the two associations that they risked “self-destruction” if they pursued their policy.

Both men were speaking in Chester, in England, at the national conference of the UK Special Constabulary, a volunteer reserve force.

GRA president Dermot O’Donnell yesterday said that the association had “a right, and a duty” to represent the views of its members.

He said: “It behoves the minister and the commissioner to take our considered views seriously and in good faith.”

He criticised the minister for not inviting the staff associations to attend the conference.

“It’s obscene of the minister and the commissioner to be sneaking out of the country and attacking members of An Garda Síochána from foreign soil. It’s shameful and unbecoming conduct.”

He criticised the minister for joining the Special Constable on the beat when he had never done the same with gardaí out in west Dublin or elsewhere and see from himself how ill-equipped they were.

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