Fitzgerald says garda dispute must be solved "within the context of the Lansdowne Road agreement"
The Tánaiste has again insisted the Lansdowne Road pay deal cannot be abandoned in efforts to avoid a Garda strike.
Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil this evening that government cannot let the “admiration and respect” it has for the work of the gardaí “blind us to the consequences” of settling the dispute outside the public service pay policy.
Ms Fitzgerald said every effort is being made to stop the garda unions from moving forward with planned work stoppages but warned the government cannot afford to undermine the Lansdowne Road agreement.
“The reality of any negotiation is that both sides do not get everything they want but we must continue in the coming days to work with great intensity – which we will – to map a way forward,” she said.
“There is no point in pretending that the planned action, if it goes ahead, will not constitute a very significant challenge to this country.”
She said the deal on the table from the government includes “very significant benefits” - including the restoration of rent allowance worth over €4,000 to new recruits.
“The challenge against that background is for the discussions to continue to see if we can reach agreement on measures which are possible within the context of the Lansdowne Road agreement,” she said.
“Of course they have to be fair to the gardaí, to other public sector workers and to the wider community itself which has to pay for these measures.”
She warned that there will be major disruptions if the strikes go ahead:
Officials from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said there has been “no progress” in the talks thus far.
The second day of industrial action - due to go ahead on Friday - will see AGSI members refusing to use the Garda PULSE system or undertake administrative duties.
AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said the action will go ahead as planned.
“Despite our second day of escalated industrial action taking place this Friday; we have not made any progress which would warrant us calling off our planned industrial action,” she said.
“We entered two days of talks last week and gave certain commitments which we fulfilled, however it is disappointing that we are not in a position to report any meaningful progress.”
The AGSI negotiating team are due to meet Department of Justice officials again tomorrow morning marking the third face-to-face meeting in six days.