A short-term pay agreement should be drawn up to help Gardaí cope with the rising cost of living, according to the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.
The AGSI is holding its annual conference in Tralee this afternoon, with body-worn cameras, training for domestic abuse cases and Garda pay all high on the agenda.
The Justice Minister Helen McEntee is due to attend the conference; however, the AGSI has expressed disappointment that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris will not be present.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, AGSI General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham said the 1% pay rise due to Gardaí in October is no longer sufficient giving the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
“AGSI members are very realistic,” she said. “They might be Gardaí, but they are also members of Irish society and suffer the same financial hardship as anyone else.
“These are very challenging times for Irish society and indeed across the world. We are conscious of that, so we are not making any unrealistic pay demands. What we are saying is it has to be realistic and it has to be somewhere in line with current, predicted inflationary levels.”
Short-term pay agreement
Inflation is currently predicted to hit between 6% and 8%; however, Ms Cunningham said a short-term agreement could be put in place.
“I think what could happen here is a short-term pay agreement could actually be drawn up by Government as opposed to a longer-term pay agreement,” she said.
“As you know the types of pay agreement traditionally that the AGSI would have would be of a two to three-year duration so a new pay agreement for even a one-year duration might give some certainty to people about how they can expect to deal with the economic challenges they face.”
She said any agreement on pay would have to be worked out with other public sector bodies, adding: “We all know it has to be realistic, bearing in mind the challenges the country is facing.”
This evening’s conference will also see the Justice Minister announcing that body-worn cameras are to be trialled within the next year.
Helen McEntee will say that they will be pi9lotedd in some garda divisions over the next year before being fully rolled out in 2023.
Ms Cunningham said her members are looking forward to hearing a clear date for the rollout of the technology.
“This is something that we have been pressing for in the AGSI for a number of years,” she said. “Our position on this is well-stated. We are seeking, basically, the introduction of body-worn cameras.
“We know it had to be founded in legislation and we believe that is almost at final stages now in the Oireachtas committees.
“So, we look forward now to the minister actually telling us when body-worn cameras will be put into use in the Garda organization. It is something our members have advocated for, for a very long time.”
Body-worn cameras were first recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in 2018 and while they are supported by Garda unions, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has raised concerns over privacy rights.
The necessary legislation will be published next month - and Garda management is to engage with potential suppliers shortly.
Minister McEntee will say that while substantial work is needed, she is confident body worn cameras will be fully rolled out from 2023.
Additional reporting from Stephen Murphy.