The garda who confronted Taoiseach Enda Kenny while canvassing in Meath East was not in uniform.
He reportedly remained calm and polite throughout the chance meeting. He stressed that he felt that the salaries of gardaí were being unfairly reduced.
In response, the Taoiseach criticised the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors for walking out on pay talks.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has called for a report into the chance meeting with the Taoiseach. There must be no hint or suggestion of any victimisation in this instance. There are already signs of disconcerting unrest within the force.
An Garda Síochána ought to be seen as a disciplined organisation. But some recent behaviour has brought that discipline into serious question.
The AGSI received Justice Minister Alan Shatter and the Garda Commissioner with a pointed but discreet silence at its conference in Sligo. The walkout by four supervisors in protest, however, was a sad reflection on both their discipline and their solidarity with their colleagues.
The GRA has every right to invite, or not to invite, the justice minister and the commissioner to its forthcoming conference, but the publicity afforded to suggestions that it would deliberately snub them appears gratuitously insulting.
This behaviour has been further compounded by suggestions that elements of the gardaí are considering industrial action that would violate the law. This would be intolerable, as it would undermine the basis on which An Garda Síochána was founded. It would also amount to a challenge to the rule of law and the fundamental civilian control of our democracy.
Security forces have acted above the law in other countries, but where such conduct was tolerated, it has usually led to a form of fascism. Such conduct should never be tolerated in a democratic republic.
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