Gardaí in Sligo, and across Ireland, have been faced with a difficult decision this morning as it was revealed that the Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan yesterday wrote to every member of the force ordering them to report for duty on the proposed strike day this Friday.The move is expected to irk Garda unions as they prepare to attend a Labour Court hearing today in a last ditch attempt by the Government to avert the unprecedented industrial action.
The Commissioner's letter ordered all members of the force not to take part in planned strikes and warned that the action could “irreparably compromise” the Garda’s authority to police the State. See letter in full below
In an unprecedented intervention in the dispute between gardaí and the Government over pay, Ms O’Sullivan urged those under her command to think of the long-term consequences for Ireland.
She said State security was at risk if Garda members withdrew their service in strikes which are scheduled to take place this Friday and the remaining three Fridays in November.
The commissioner directed all gardaí to be available for work in the 24-hour period of the planned action. She said she was was cancelling all leave and all rest days, a development that draws into the protest action all those members set to be resting or on leave.
Other public service trade unions have expressed strong interest in using the offers to the Garda groups in an attempt to avert the strike as a precedent for securing similar increases for their members.A number of unions, including the nusrses' INMO, are particularly looking at the proposal for the €1,459 new payment for gardaí to attend 15-minute briefings in advance of their shifts.
Civil Public and Services Union general secretary Eoin Ronayne said the union, which represents lower paid civil servants, felt the proposals potentially opened the door to the reversal of the additional, unpaid hours its members have to work at present. The letter in full:
"To each member of An Garda Síochána,
Re: Proposed action by the GRA and AGSI on specified dates in November 2016
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) are currently in negotiations with the Department of Justice and Equality. In the event of failing to reach agreement in these negotiations, the Associations propose four dates of action by their membership commencing on the 4th November, 2016.
As Garda Commissioner, I am aware of the challenges and circumstances which members and staff of An Garda Síochána continue to experience. Despite these challenges, I acknowledge the continued dedication to duty which members of An Garda Síochána have shown and the commitment to continuously serve the community. Our members have given selflessly to protect the public and the State, which is vital in maintaining the trust and support of the communities we serve. The reputation enjoyed by An Garda Síochána is reinforced by our daily interaction with the community and ensuring that public safety is maintained. I wish to acknowledge and express my appreciation for your professionalism and commitment in this regard.
It is in this context, I believe that in the event that the proposed course of action takes place, it may irreparably compromise our authority to police the State. In addition, it will negatively impact on public confidence in An Garda Síochána and jeopardise the respect in which An Garda Síochána and each member of the Garda organisation is held.
Section 7 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, as amended (the 2005 Act), places a statutory obligation on each member of the Garda Síochána to protect the security of the state and to provide a policing service that ensures community safety and the protection of the public. In particular, Section 7(1) of the 2005 Act sets out the function of the Garda Síochána is to provide policing and security services for the State with the objective of:
(a) Preserving peace and public order
(b) Protecting life and property
(c) Vindicating the human rights of each individual
(d) Protecting the security of the State
(e) Preventing crime
(f) Bringing criminals to justice, including by detecting and investigating crime, and
(g) Regulating and controlling road traffic and improving road safety
Section 7(3) of the 2005 Act states that in addition to its function under subsection (1), the Garda Síochána and its members have such functions as are conferred on them by law including those relating to immigration.
The events of recent days and weeks have led to An Garda Síochána finding itself in an unprecedented situation. In particular, the action proposed for Friday 4th November and subsequently is without precedent and is gravely damaging for the delivery of a policing and security service for this country as well as for An Garda Síochána as an organisation and each individual member of An Garda Síochána.
In order to avert these potentially serious consequences for the policing and security of the State and in accordance with my statutory functions under Section 26(1) of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, as amended, to ‘direct and control’ An Garda Síochána; annual leave and rest days in respect of every member of An Garda Síochána on the 4th November, 2016 are hereby cancelled.
In these circumstances, members are hereby directed to make themselves available for duty during the period 7am on the 4th November, 2016 to 7am on the 5th November, 2016. Local Garda Management will be in contact with you to confirm compliance with this direction. It will be necessary to introduce two (2) twelve (12) hour tours of duty during this period. Local Garda Management will direct personnel under their control on their required duties to ensure appropriate policing of their areas of responsibility.
An Garda Síochána has a long-established and proud tradition of placing our communities at the heart of everything we do. In order to maintain this position it is obligatory that we ensure public safety and protection by providing a guaranteed policing service and maintaining the security of the State at all times.
I am confident of your support in these difficult circumstances and I remain confident that the professionalism, dedication and commitment of the members of An Garda Síochána will prevail in the face of these challenges."