Gardaí ‘can’t cope’ with acute shortages

Middle-ranking gardaí have urged Garda chief Nóirín O’Sullivan to speak out about the staff shortage in the force before a garda is “seriously injured or worse”.

Gardaí ‘can’t cope’ with acute shortages

And in a stinging attack on the commissioner, the head of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said “nothing has changed” in the force despite all her talk of change, consultation, and engagement.

AGSI president Tim Galvin told Ms O’Sullivan that she should “take a leaf out of the [Justice] Minister’s book” in her approach to the association.

He accused the Garda boss of treating the association with “disdain” at what he called repeated failures to meet them on serious issues.

Mr Galvin made his comments to the commissioner before her address to delegates at the annual conference of AGSI in Trim, Co Meath.

He said the strength of the force had fallen by 1,700 to 12,800 in five years. He told the commissioner that approximately 30 people were leaving every month across all ranks.

“We just can’t cope,” he said. “If you take water protests for one example, it is stripping us of what resources we have in the city and we are still expected to provide a service for everybody else and we just don’t have the resources.”

“There are ever increasing demands on our organisation and as a consequence, resources are stretched to breaking point at times. Heretofore there was scope to back fill with overtime but that is no longer available.”

He said district and divisional headquarters across the country were finding it more difficult to provide “even the most basic” of policing services on a daily basis: “Not only is this unfair to supervisors and operational gardaí alike, because it exposes them to greater risks, it is also unfair on the public who expect the same level of service as they did when the organisation strength was at 14,500. We are currently 12,800.”

He attacked the commissioner for not speaking out the staffing crisis: “Commissioner, it will be too late to say we were under-resourced when the confidence of the public in the gardaí is lost. It will be too late to blame under-resourcing when one of your staff is seriously injured or worse.

“Privately, your senior managers will acknowledge to this association that they recognise we have a staff shortage, however, no one wants to state it publicly.

“Why, therefore, are you reluctant to say what everyone is thinking privately? Now is your opportunity. There is a long lead time to getting people through training. Calling for extra resources when the quality of service has fallen to unacceptable levels is too late.”

He called on management to match new gardaí with the attrition rate: “We are losing more than we are taking in; now is the time to commence work on that strategy.”

Mr Galvin strongly criticised the commissioner for not engaging with the association on a range of issues - contrary to her promises at last year’s conference.

He urged her not to treat the association as a nuisance, warning: “if that is your approach that will be our attitude”.

Read more of today’s news here

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd