More than 200 senior Gardaí have marched in protest over the ongoing rostering dispute this morning.
The sergeants and inspectors are marching through Phoenix Park to Garda Headquarters where they will formally submit a letter to Garda management outlining their concerns.
They claim Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is failing to honour a promise to let them return to pre-pandemic working hours.
The dispute relates to the rostering of “non-core” units, made up of specialist gardaí, such as detectives and community policing.
They are angry over plans to bring in a new roster that would see them working for seven straight days before receiving two rest days.
The roster would see them working six days on and three days off before working seven days on and two days off and then seven days on with three days off.
There are also concerns that they would miss out on overtime allowances because they would no longer be expected to perform night duty.
“It’s our job as representatives to tell him – it’s not for him to tell us.”@AGSI_Ireland @antoabs says the Garda Commissioner is in no position to rule out any #BlueFlu as the Garda rostering dispute rolls on. #AGSIDayOfAction pic.twitter.com/wC8BJSxq4K
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) March 13, 2023
On The Pat Kenny Show last week, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he didn't think there was any risk of a 'blue flu' over the dispute with Gardaí calling in sick in protest.
Speaking at the march today, AGSI General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham said he was in no position to make such a claim.
“It seems to me funny that the commissioner would rule it out,” she said. “The commissioner doesn’t represent the membership; we represent the membership.
“So, they will tell us what they want to do and we in turn will tell him.
“Whether he deems it unsuitable or not that is a matter for himself but in all types of industrial disputes and all types of issues related to health and safety, it is job of us as representatives to tell him not for him to tell us.”
On Newstalk Breakfast, Former AGSI deputy secretary Tony Gallagher said there is a “lot at a stake” in the dispute”.
“At the heart of it is the detective units and the community police,” he said. “The commissioner seems to think that they are more suited to working between the hours of 9am to 5pm,” he said.
“Now, first of all, they will be financially discriminated against if they do that and secondly, if you take detectives solely on to the 9am to 5pm area, you are losing the level of expertise and the structure being given to young people on how they approach crime.
“As you know, most serious crime occurs well into the dusk, if not the night-time, so you are already losing labour from a force that is not there in terms of specialist units.
“You are stripping the frontline and you are left with younger and younger members. This course of action would take away further experience from those guys who would give them direction.”
Mr Gallagher was critical of Commissioner Harris’s approach to the talks, accusing him of failing to work constructively with the AGSI.
He also criticised him for his response to the recruitment and retention issues facing the force and the current understaffing on the front line.
He said it is “sad” that the dispute has led to senior gardaí marching on the streets.
Asked whether the dispute could lead to another ‘blue flu’ with gardaí calling in sick in protest, he said: “You would hope not”.
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With reporting from Ellen Butler.