Gardaí in dispute with management over new anti-corruption policies

Gardaí in dispute with management over new anti-corruption policies

The GRA circular to its members stated that two garda representative bodies, and unions representing civilians working in the force were now in dispute with An Garda Síochána. Stock picture

Garda staff associations have lodged a dispute with Garda HQ claiming lack of consultation in relation to flagship anti-corruption policies announced last month.

The complaint also refers to what they say were incorrect statements made by garda management to the media at the launch and an alleged refusal to publicly correct the record.

This issue refers to statements that all gardaí would be drug tested, starting within six months, which the associations say management has since corrected to them, but only internally.

Drug testing is one of a number of policies issued by the new Anti-Corruption Unit, an area that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has put as a key priority.

GRA circular to members 

The dispute, involving two garda associations and two unions representing civilians working in the force, followed a meeting with garda management on Wednesday.

A circular issued to members by the Garda Representative Association (GRA), seen by the Irish Examiner, said: “The GRA attended a meeting this afternoon with the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit to address the ill-informed reporting by media sources following the premature public launch of the Anti-Corruption Unit on June 1, 2021. The GRA take exception at the unilateral attempt by Garda management to introduce policy change without consultation and agreement.” 

Referring to the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) and two civil service unions, Fórsa and the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS), the statement said: “The Staff Associations including the GRA, AGSI, FORSA, AHCPS declared that we are in dispute on this matter and have invoked the Dispute Resolution mechanism.” 

It added: “The dispute with management is their failure to observe the information and consultation provisions of the Public Service Agreements, in maintaining industrial peace and stability. The GRA sought that the Anti-Corruption policies are withdrawn from the Portal with immediate effect and the associated media coverage corrected.” 

In a tweet, the AGSI said: “Our National Executive has this afternoon notified Garda Management that along with other staff associations/unions we are in dispute with them owing to a lack of proper consultation around proposed Counter Corruption Policies. Consultation is a basic right in workplace change.” 

Consultation 'a basic requirement' 

Adding to this, AGSI general secretary Antoinette Cunningham tweeted that they are in dispute over “a lack of a proper consultation”.

She said consultation on the new policies is a “basic and necessary requirement in moving matters forward collectively”.

In a statement, garda HQ said: “An Garda Síochána does not comment on internal industrial relations.” 

Some sources expect garda management to respond to the associations next week, perhaps to seek a resolution.

If there is no resolution, the matter could be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission.

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