Government preparations for Garda strike "deplorable" - Adams

The government has yet to reveal a viable back-up plan should Garda strikes go ahead

Only a small number of officers are expected to be allowed to operate the PULSE system tomorrow as Garda industrial action gets underway.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) decided "overwhelmingly" on Monday to join their rank-and-file colleagues in taking industrial action next month.

The decision means AGSI members will “withdraw from labour” alongside their colleagues from the Garda Representative Association (GRA) for four days in November.

The AGSI action will also see members refusing to log on to the PULSE system tomorrow and on October 28 – when they will also refuse to undertake any administrative duties.

Following a meeting with officials from the department of Justice this afternoon, the AGSI has now agreed to allow custody sergeants to use PULSE in order to manage prisoners.

Talks are expected to continue tomorrow in order to discuss how to keep public order when members of the force - approximately 10,500 rank and file gardaí and 2,000 Garda sergeants and inspectors - withdraw from duty in November.

The withdrawal will see between 300 and 400 gardaí of superintendent rank and higher left to protect the country.

It is still unclear if the government has a viable back-up plan should the strikes go ahead and AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said it is “not for” the AGSI to “solve the problems in relation to contingency planning”.

“Nobody has had any conversations with us whatsoever about contingency planning so therefore I would say that is a responsibility for people in senior management and not people in a representative association,” she said.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has accused the government of failing to prepare properly in the face of the strike.

“Reports indicate that there has been no discussion between the Minister for Justice and An Garda Síochána on contingency plans for the imminent strike action by the Garda unions,” he said. 

"With the AGSI commencing its industrial action tomorrow this is deplorable. 

“The state faces an unprecedented crisis with almost all Garda threatening to go on a series of strikes. The government has a responsibility to ensure that a plan is in place to provide some measure of policing.”

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is currently attending a police conference in San Francisco and was not in attendance at the talks.

Fianna Fail’s John McGuinness said that as the prospect of industrial action looms, the commissioner should be in Ireland dealing with the crisis.

“I don’t think she should be away. Quite frankly [her place] is here with the Minister for justice dealing with the issue and forming a contingency plan, restoring the confidence in Gardaí around the country and dealing with the pay issue,” he said.