There is no “risk of a blue flu” due to the ongoing roster row, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors is due to hold a day of action next week because of its unhappiness with a new system of rostering for the force.
The ASGSI said it would consider all forms of industrial action but Commissioner Harris said he was confident it would not involve Gardaí calling in sick because of discontent with their rosters.
“I don’t think there’s any risk of a blue flu,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Where we are is, we are in negotiations in respect of rosters; these negotiations have carried on for three and a half years - regrettably, without success.
“We’ve exhausted, in my view, the internal mechanisms and I’ve referred the matter to the outside conciliation service of the Workplace Relations Service.
“That’s where we are, we’re waiting for the WRC to commence their work.”
Commissioner Harris also said An Garda Síochána still hope to meet Government recruitment targets but that the competitive nature of the job market is making that a challenge.
Last year, An Garda Síochána had a target of 800 new recruits but only managed to sign up half that figure.
In Budget 2023, the Government increased the target to 1,000 new Gardaí and Commissioner Harris said the force still hopes to deliver that number.
“We launched a competition last March and that’s running through in terms of people going into Templemore,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“We have a further competition that we’ll launch at the end of this month and what we seek to do then is, the next class coming into Templemore will be a class of 225.
“That’s our aim, so that we meet the Government’s challenge of 1,000 new Gardaí into Templemore.”
Interim Justice Minister Simon Harris wants to bring the force up to 19,000 - made up of 15,000 Gardaí and an additional 4,000 Garda staff.
Commissioner Harris estimates the force lost the opportunity to recruit around 1,000 people because of the pandemic but believes, overall, the force is doing well.
“So, our turnover in any year is roughly about 3%,” he said.
“I think if you compare us with any other comparable police service - never mind any other organisation of our size - we are doing very well.
“But we are our own jurisdiction and we are unique; we are very conscious of wanting to recruit the right calibre of person and also then that person wanting to stay with us as well.
“There’s just an element of the jobs market, at this moment, where the jobs market is a very transient one.
“People see other opportunities in Ireland, or indeed further afield, and taking up those opportunities.
“I think we’re doing better than maybe some of our other major industries in terms of holding onto our employees.”
Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan has previously suggested lowering the physical fitness requirements for entrance into Templemore in order to boost the number of Gardaí.
Deputy O’Callaghan described the test as “quite challenging” and tougher than those in other jurisdictions.
Main image: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris following a meeting in public with the Policing Authority at Dublin Castle.