Gardaí demand pay increases due to increasing dangers facing frontline members

Gardaí demand pay increases due to increasing dangers facing frontline members

The Garda Representative Association members voting in favour of gardaí being issued with tasers at the annual conference which took place in Westport, Co Mayo. Pictures: Paul Mealey

Frontline gardaí want better pay to reflect the increasing danger of their job, to address the added workload caused by inadequate numbers in the force, and to combat rising inflation.

Greg O’Neill, a Garda Representative Association (GRA) delegate based in Dublin, told its annual conference that pay must be increased to address increasingly violent assaults on gardaí, some who are having to patrol alone because there are not enough frontline members of the force to ensure they go out in pairs.

Garda O’Neill said this increased level of personal risk “must be reflected” by better pay.

He said currently 185 gardaí are out sick as a result of being injured on duty and many more are absent due to illness.

Garda Representative Association delegates from left are: Kevin Motherway, Ben Donovan, Carol-Ann O'Callaghan, Padraig Harrington, and Shane Coakley at the annual conference in Mayo. 
Garda Representative Association delegates from left are: Kevin Motherway, Ben Donovan, Carol-Ann O'Callaghan, Padraig Harrington, and Shane Coakley at the annual conference in Mayo. 

Unlike other organisations, the gardaí cannot bring in agency workers to plug the gaps in personnel and that is leading to increased workloads for those left holding the fort and increased levels of stress.

“As a result, morale is on the floor,” he said. “Our conditions of service have been denigrated.”

Garda O’Neill said many gardaí cannot afford to live to rent or buy homes near their stations and are forced to travel long commutes to work, which is also becoming more challenging due to rising fuel prices.

He said their most recent pay increase was “wiped out with inflation approaching 8%” and unprecedented numbers are leaving for better remuneration and conditions in the private sector.

James Morrisroe, who is based in the Cavan/Monaghan division, told the conference in Westport, Co Mayo, that one of his colleagues was the victim of a vicious assault in Blacklion on February 28 last, while patrolling on his own. 

He said it was the third time he’d been a victim of a bad assault and the second time while on duty on his own.

Garda Morrisroe said gardaí working alone in isolated locations need to be protected and maintained that garda management is not addressing excessively depleted frontline units in such areas.

Garda Ray Wimms, from the Sligo/Leitrim division, said the number of frontline gardaí working in Navan had reduced by 35 in the past 10 years.

The conference also heard one station in Donegal, which once had one sergeant and nine gardaí, now has just one sergeant and two gardaí.

Dublin-based Garda Ciaran O’Neill said some armed units only had 65% of the manpower they were supposed to have.

He said the Government promised in the last budget to bring in 800 new recruits, but maintained there’s no way the Garda College in Templemore has the capacity to train that many people in one year.

GRA delegates have also called for more frontline members to be armed with tasers because pepper spray and batons are not enough to quell some increasingly violent offenders.

Garda John Parker, from the Cork North Division, said there are “too few tasers” in service and they are needed in certain circumstances when frontline gardaí simply cannot wait for armed units to arrive and provide back-up.

“A taser is a defensive rather than an offensive weapon,” he said.

Damien McCarthy speaking to members of the media after members of the Garda Representative Association agreed to vote in favour of gardaí being issued with tasers.
Damien McCarthy speaking to members of the media after members of the Garda Representative Association agreed to vote in favour of gardaí being issued with tasers.

The GRA also believes that all patrol cars should be fitted with dash cams.

Rank-and-file gardaí also want subsistence rates and mileage allowances restored to pre-July 1, 2008 levels, when they were cut due to the recession.

They're also insisting their retirement age is raised from 60 to 65, as is the case for most professions.

One delegate said “a wealth of experience is walking out the door” as a result.

In addition, they want the age limit raised because more and more gardaí are joining the force in their 30s and as a result cannot put in the years of service required to enable them retire on a full pension.

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