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Disciplining protesting gardaí wrong and an attempt to silence dissent- Mac Lochlainn

27 March, 2013 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin spokesperson on justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has described as “an attempt to silence dissent” and “wrong” the decision by Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, sanctioned by Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, to discipline four garda sergeants who had walked out of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) annual conference in protest during the speeches of both the Commissioner and the Minister.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“This move by the Garda Commissioner follows his circular, last year, forbidding gardaí from communicating (directly or through someone else) with any public representative in order to lobby or influence the decision of the commissioner. The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is rightly challenging that circular in the High Court.

“There is clearly a strategy by the Garda Commissioner, implemented, I presume at the behest of Minister Shatter to silence dissent in An Garda Síochána. This is wrong and it will not succeed.”

“The reality is that morale in the gardaí is at an all-time low because of their disillusionment at the government’s cut back agenda, dressed up with labels such as “smart policing” and “efficiencies”.

“The Croke Park II proposals are blatantly unfair to gardaí in particular and this has only served to enhance their anger.

“Some 143 garda stations have been closed over the last 18 months. The numbers of garda vehicles and garda personnel have been significantly reduced and the amalgamation of garda districts will centralise policing to larger urban areas to the detriment of the effective policing of rural communities.
These are the facts. No strategy to silence gardaí and prevent them from protesting in a peaceful and dignified manner will succeed and both the minister and the Garda Commissioner need to take a step back and engage with both the AGSI and the GRA to genuinely resolve the issues of real concern they are articulating.”

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