Justice Minister appeals to GRA to return to talks with her department

Garda Representative Association says members will 'withdraw from services' on four dates next month

Justice Minister appeals to GRA to return to talks with her department

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The Tánaiste and Justice Minister says she is in no doubt about the seriousness of the threatened Garda industrial action.

The Garda Representative Association - which represents rank and file officers - has announced "a unilateral withdrawal of services" on four separate days in November in their pay row.

However they say 999 calls will still be answered and emergencies will be dealt with.

The GRA's Central Executive Committee yesterday unanimously rejected a proposal on pay from the Department of Justice.

The proposals put forward to the union included a commitment to restore increments, and the annual rent allowance of around €4,000.

The GRA could yet be joined in the action by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

In the Dáil, Frances Fitzgerald appealed to the GRA to return to talks with her department.

"The important point is to get back into discussions and see how we can negotiate," she said. "Of course we want to ensure that we can resolve this."

"The country will not be abandoned"

GRA Deputy President Jim Mulligan says industrial action is a last resort.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, he explained: "Contingency plans have to be put in place [...] The country will not be abandoned.

"This decision wasn't taken lightly, and there was a very somber mood in the conference yesterday when this decision was taken. We are a vocational group, and we've all sworn an oath to protect this country."

However, the GRA has been accused of ignoring the real needs of its members.

Alan Bailey is a retired Detective Sergeant and former head of the Garda Cold Case Unit.

Also speaking to Breakfast, he argued: "The restoration of the rent allowance would make a huge difference - and that's part of the deal. Here we have the GRA saying 'no no, we don't want it, we want more'.

"They're talking on one hand about concerns for members' welfare, members sleeping in cars and such like. But at the same time this could be addressed in some part by the restoration of the rent allowance," he added.

He also referenced the industrial action by gardaí in 1998 - known as 'Blue Flu Day', when thousands of gardaí called in sick on the same day.

"I feel that the last Blue Flu Day damaged relations between the gardaí and the public - a damage that has never been repaired," he suggested.