The Garda no-confidence motion has ‘potentially dangerous’ implications for the future of the force, Newstalk Breakfast presenter Jonathan Healy has warned.
The results of the Garda Representative Association ballot will be revealed later this morning, with large numbers of rank-and-file Gardaí expected to vote no confidence in Commissioner Drew Harris.
The vote is unprecedented for the force and Jonathan said it could have long-term implications – not just for Commissioner Harris but for anyone who succeeds him in the role.
"It's potentially dangerous because of the fact that they are a disciplined force and whatever happens next,” he said.
“We remember the ‘Blue Flu’, which was effectively a strike - Gardaí cannot strike; it's against the law for Gardaí to strike - but they have genuine grievances.
“I'm not sure this is the way to go about doing it and it is possibly a little bit belligerent, even though they feel they have no choice.
“If you can decide, ‘Yeah, well, I don't like Drew Harris’ and vote no confidence, then what happens to the next Garda Commissioner who comes along do something they don't like – and the next one and the next one.”
Jonathan said rank-and-file Gardaí have "genuine grievances", particularly when it comes to rostering and staffing levels – and large segments of the public “will have sympathy for them."
"They do feel very much put upon," he said. "But I'm not sure that today's action is going to bring about any realistic change."
"Particularly when other members of the force – particularly the higher ranks – don't have an issue with some of the things that Drew Harris is doing when it comes to rosters."
The ballot was called after GRA members expressed frustration over a number of issues – with the ongoing dispute over rosters causing division in the force.
Under the emergency roster system introduced during the COVID pandemic, Gardaí work 12-hour shifts, four days on, four days off.
The vote was called after Commissioner Harris confirmed his intention to return to the old roster – which saw most Gardaí working 10-hour shifts for six days before having four days off, with Sunday shifts reduced to eight hours.
Former Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) Deputy Secretary Tony Gallagher told the show there will be "a lot of focus" on the "unprecedented" result today.
"I think it will be a test in the leadership style of the Commissioner to see what the response will be," he said.
Mr Gallagher said the proposed new rostering system would have caused "substantial losses of income", in particular for detectives.
"There is an understanding that there's a newer roster substantially wanted to be brought to the table," he said.
Mr Gallagher said it is important the dispute between management and rank and file Gardaí has a positive outcome, as the force continues to try and attract new members.