GRA considers Labour Court recommendation as Commissioner reassures public ahead of Garda strike

Tánaiste appealed to both the GRA and AGSI to suspend the strike action

GRA considers Labour Court recommendation as Commissioner reassures public ahead of Garda strike

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at this evening's press conference. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Garda Commissioner has moved to reassure the public ahead of tomorrow's planned Garda strike. 

It comes as the Garda Representative Association executive considers a Labour Court recommendation issued tonight in a last ditch attempt to avert tomorrow's threatened strike by more than 12,000 gardaí.

It is understood that if the Labour Court recommendation meets the GRA’s demands for substantial pay restoration, the executive committee will ask for the strike to be postponed.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has also returned to the Labour Court this evening.

The planned industrial action will run from 7am on November 4th to 7am on November 5th.

In a press conference, Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan said: "I would like to say to the community, as always we will depend on the support of the community. Tomorrow is no different.

"We ask for that support and cooperation as we go about our business of making sure a policing service is provided tomorrow," he added.

She added that she cannot go into the specifics of the contingency plans in place, and that they will await the outcome of the ongoing talks.

GRA President Ciaran O’Neill spoke on his way in to the Labour Court, and said it was a "welcome development" that they were heading back in:

78 Garda stations will be open across the country tomorrow, while the 999 service will be available for emergency calls only.

"General administrative functions in Garda stations such as witnessing passport applications will not be facilitated tomorrow," the force said in a statement.

The GRA earlier asked members in several units not to take part in any industrial action.

It says this is in order to support operational need.

"This will ensure a skeletal service to protect the security of the State, prevent and detect serious crime and preserve vital evidence," the association said.

Members of the following units or specialist roles are "respectfully asked" to respond positively to requests by management to fulfill or provide cover for their usual roles:

  • Emergency Response Unit [ERU]
  • Regional Support Units [RSU]
  • Garda Technical Bureau [Mapping, Fingerprints, Ballistics and Photographic Sections]
  • Critical Incident/Major Emergency response capabilities
  • Communications Rooms
  • Protection & Escort Personnel/Units
  • National Surveillance Unit
  • Static Protection Posts
  • Special Detective Unit
  • Intelligence Sections
  • Witness Security Programme Unit
  • VIP protection
  • Garda Drugs Organised Crime Bureau
  • Special Dedicated Embassy Patrols
  • Immigration Units
  • Forensic Collision Investigators
  • Attend to prosecutions in court
  • Student and Probationer Gardaí

It says that the ongoing security of the State, protection of life and the gathering of evidence by these units is paramount and must not be compromised.

GRA General-Secretary Pat Ennis said: "The government failed to make effective contingency plans despite five weeks’ warning of withdrawal of services by gardaí.

"The recent negotiation process was unnecessarily protracted. The GRA has engaged throughout in a responsible problem-solving manner. This government has perilously gambled with public safety in its treatment of our members.

"History shows that gardaí put their lives on the line to protect the public. To this end, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the risk to the public is contained and minimised".

Courts to run as normal

While the Courts Service says all Dublin cases to be heard tomorrow will go ahead.

It adds that only three regional sittings have been affected so far.

In a statement, it says: "The Courts Service has been in constant contact and discussions with the Judiciary and an Garda Siochana in relation to Friday's court sittings. We have discussed logistical and security issues and have made various, location specific arrangements for same."

It adds that unless people see notices to the contrary, they should assume their court date stands for tomorrow.

All criminal, civil and appeal matters are to go ahead in Dublin.

All cases of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Circuit Court, and the District Court will go ahead as normal in the Four Courts.

All cases in the Central Criminal Court, the Circuit Criminal Court and the District Courts will go ahead in the Criminal Courts of Justice.

All childcare / child welfare cases will also be heard in Dublin tomorrow - while Tallaght and Blanchardstown will sit as normal.

Courts sittings deferred for tomorrow are:

  • Galway Circuit Criminal matters due for Friday are being heard in advance today
  • Waterford Juvenile District Court list is deferred to a date in December
  • Kilkenny Circuit Appeals list is deferred to a future date

The Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald earlier urged both Garda associations to suspend the planned strike, while the Labour Court draws up proposals.

Ms Fitzgerald said the court was not in a position to make a recommendation on Garda pay until Friday.

Speaking in Belfast, Taoiseach Enda Kenny says tomorrows strike action should be called off while any ballot of GRA members takes place.

Ms Fitzgerald urged both Garda representative groups to suspend their action.

"In the context of giving time and space to consider both the results of a ballot and indeed the recommendation of the Labour Court. I would certainly ask both organisations to suspend their action.

"We need to hear from the Labour Court, and of course the results of a ballot."