Garda body issues legal threat over phone bill

THE Garda Representative Association (GRA) says it will take legal action against the state if it continues to refuse to pay for a garda’s mobile phone which was deliberately smashed after a gang viciously beat him and threw him down and embankment.

The GRA, which represents 12,000 rank and file gardaí said it’s “outraged” by the refusal of the Garda authorities to pay out €250 for the Samsung phone, despite the fact that a number of the garda’s superiors, including a chief superintendent, had fully endorsed his claim.

The attack took place last May when the young garda spotted two foreign nationals acting suspiciously in a rural part of north Cork. He gave chase in his patrol car for several miles, clocking up speeds of up to 100km/h on narrow country roads, before the gang suddenly stopped their green Toyota near Rathduff village, on the northern outskirts of Cork city.

They dragged the garda from his vehicle, attacked him and threw him down the embankment, before deliberately stamping on his mobile phone and slashing the patrol car’s tyres.

Although he wasn’t seriously injured, the Mallow-based garda was traumatised by the attack. The culprits have never been found.

John Parker, a member of the GRA National Executive, said at the time gardaí in that area routinely used their own mobile phones to keep in contact with their colleagues because the Garda radio system in the area has a number of black spots.

A new radio system was installed in the area earlier this month.

“This man was doing his duty and, in the course of doing it, his phone was deliberately smashed,” said Mr Parker.

“This phone should have been treated like any other piece of workplace equipment. It wasn’t lost, it was deliberately stamped on.”

He said gardaí routinely use their personal mobile phones in the course of their duty and do not charge the state for calls made.

“I was often at the scene of an accident and gave my own mobile to people so they could assure their relatives that they were okay. I’ve never made an issue of that and neither have my colleagues. We pay the bills ourselves,” he said.

“To say we’re outraged by the refusal to compensate this man wouldn’t go halfway to explaining our anger,” the senior GRA official added.

He said the GRA would discuss the issue again with senior Garda management and, if a resolution wasn’t found, the organisation would instruct its solicitors to take legal action.

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