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McDonald critical of Shatter’s treatment of gardaí

28 March, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD this morning criticised the Justice Ministers treatment of rank and file gardaí and called on the Tánaiste to start listening to the real concerns being raised following cuts to services and the personal impact of significant reductions in pay and conditions.

Deputy McDonald said:
“Attempts to silence dissent among rank and file Gardaí by disciplining the four Garda sergeants who walked out of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) annual conference in protest at Minister Shatter’s comments are wrong.

“The Justice Minister has treated rank and file Gardaí with contempt. Last year we had the attempt by the Garda Commissioner to forbid Gardaí from communicating with public representatives in relation to cuts. This was rightly challenged by the GRA in the Courts.

“The reality is that morale in the Gardaí is at an all-time low because of their disillusionment at the government’s cut backs agenda, dressed up with labels such as ‘smart policing’ and ‘efficiencies’. 140 Garda stations have been closed over the last 18 months. The numbers of Garda vehicles and Garda personnel have been significantly reduced. Many rural communities are being left increasingly isolated.

“To add to this we have the vindictive Croke Park II pay cuts which disproportionately target frontline workers like Gardaí, nurses, and emergency personnel.

“The fact is that gardaí and other workers implemented the changes required in Croke Park I. They implemented new work practices and new rostering arrangements. Rank and file gardaí have been pushed to the limit and now the Government comes along and tells them to do even more with less.

“There’s a very dubious logic in heaping personal financial pressure on the public servants who provide the essential services that we all rely on.

“Rather than disciplining or demanding apologies from Gardaí who protest about cuts to resources, cuts to pay and the contempt with which they are being treated by the Minster, it is incumbent on us to listen to what is being said.

“Gardaí are on the frontline defending citizens every day of the week, the Government need to listen to these same Gardaí.

“No other public servant would be silenced in the same way for protesting about these savage and unfair cuts that unjustly target low and middle income workers and citizens alike.”ENDS

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