The Garda Commissioner has said he is going nowhere, regardless of the outcome of a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) last week confirmed it was moving ahead with the vote, after a crunch meeting with Commissioner Drew Harris.
The association said it was disappointed with the meeting noting that Commissioner Harris had confirmed his intention to revert to the pre-COVID roster from November.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Commissioner Harris said he is going nowhere.
“In the first place, I have a job to do,” he said.
“I have a very important job to do and I have a lot of work left to do in my tenure which stretches out to 2025.
“So, whatever the vote is, I’m not leaving. That was my initial reaction and indeed on reflection that still is my determination – to stay on and finish the job that I was employed to do.”
"Pinnacle of my career"
Recently on the show, journalist Paul Williams suggested a no vote could have a serious impact on the Commissioner’s international reputation and his ability to secure other opportunities in Europe and elsewhere.
Commissioner Harris said he was “puzzled” by the statement – insisting he is focused on the job at hand rather than any opportunity that might come down the line post-retirement.
“This, in effect, is the pinnacle of my career,” he said.
“This is the greatest privilege in terms of my career and the work I have done in policing.
“I have 40 year's service in policing this year and what I wish to do is finish off my career in policing within An Garda Síochána as Commissioner.
“As I say, this is the greatest privilege of my career; I give it my all and I am entirely committed to the organisation and I am entirely committed to providing a policing service to the citizens of Ireland.”
Garda Roster Dispute
Under the emergency roster introduced during the COVID pandemic, Gardaí work 12-hour shifts, four days on, four days off.
The old roster saw most Gardaí working 10-hour shifts for six days before having four days off – with Sunday shifts reduced to eight hours.
The GRA and other representative groups gave a commitment to return to the old roster when the pandemic ended; however, they have since raised concerns over low morale in the force and warned that a return to the old roster will lead to further recruitment and retention problems.
Commissioner Harris told Pat he had tried to negotiate a new roster with representative groups – but noted that the “chances of doing that have receded”.
“I didn’t wish to move back to this old roster because I wished to move forward to a new roster,” he said.
“I entered this with optimism; I didn’t want the workforce, in effect, to have to make two changes of roster, but we have had to go back to the old roster and that is for very strong operational reasons.”
“When we introduced this roster – a 12-hour roster – in effect we had a flat demand curve,” he said.
“That has changed, society has opened up again; we have a nighttime economy, we have a business economy and we have people on the move – we have to respond to that demand.
“What the five-shift system gives us in effect is overlaps. If you look where we were before in 2020 and 2019 there wasn’t issues around visibility, for instance – that was not one of the features.
He said he can “entirely understand” why members do not want to return to the old rosters, “but at the same time, we have a responsibility to provide an efficient and effective service”.
“The other piece about this is, it is a very costly service which does not meet the needs of the public,” he said.
“We have high levels of confidence in the organisation, high levels of trust in the organisation but where we do fall down is in respect of service delivery.
“41% of people are not content with the service delivery that they have got from An Garda Síochána.”
He rejected the idea that Gardai became “soft” during the pandemic – noting that “the prisons are full and the courts are full”.
He also rejected the idea that people are too scared to do their business in or visit Dublin city Centre – insisting O’Connell Street remains, “a vibrant street with a lot of movement, a lot of footfall on it and people going about their business”.