On the eve of a pending strike by members of An Garda Síochána, a former Donegal Garda Sergeant has said that the low wages and conditions of gardaí could leave them open to compromise.
Former Garda Sergeant Iggy Larkin told the Democrat, “Young gardaí are joining the force straight from their Leaving Cert and being paid a salary of €23K. With today’s costs, especially in the more urban centres like Dublin, they would be very hard pressed to have a decent quality of life.
“I am not saying or even suggesting that this is happening, but if we are being realistic there are people out there who would try and take advantage of them in terms of bribery,” he said. “There has been no evidence in my time that this has been happening but the threat is always there.”
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) agreed to attend the Labour Court this week in an attempt to avert the unprecedented strike action planned for tomorrow, Friday.
Both bodies had rejected pay proposals the government put forward in recent days. The GRA was to attend the Labour Court yesterday and the AGSI is to attend this morning, Thursday.
Former Garda sergeant Larkin, who retired this year, said gardaí need proper resources.
“If gardaí are to do their jobs they must have the proper tools - we have all been told about their new fleet - they may look good but regrettably are just small family cars compared to some of the high-powered vehicles that some of the top criminals use,” he said.
“Uniforms are uncomfortable and do nothing to boost the morale of the force and on top of that we are dealing with an IT system that is at least 10 years out of date.
“The gardaí in this country area dedicated bunch of people who enjoy the trust of the vast amount of the population of this country. They should be afforded the proper conditions to carry out their jobs,” he said.
“As a former Garda I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time in the force and I think that if this action does materialise It is a sad day for both Ireland and a force that has served this country since 1922,” he said.
The GRA, the representative body for rank-and-file gardaí, last month voted for industrial action, up to and including a withdrawal of services, on four dates this month, the first set for tomorrow. The ASGI has engaged in action that saw members on select days refuse to use Pulse and not carry out any “administrative duties, such as detailing members for duty, processing files or responding to correspondence from management in relation to returns or other matters”.
The chairperson of the Leghowney Community Alert Scheme said members support the gardaí.
"We're disappointed that the guards have to strike, if it comes to that but we support them,” James Canavan, chairman of the Leghowney scheme, said. “We have a good relationship between the community and the gardaí here. We are very fortunate, as well, to have an excellent community liaison officer in Sgt. Paul Leape."
Mr Canavan said the group had been assured that 999 emergency calls will be responded to and dealt with.
"We would, as always, encourage anyone who notices any suspicious activity to contact their designated Community Alert Scheme liaison member,” he said. “We would have provided all the relevant information and contact details to older people in the area and we will be sending out a Community Alert to everyone this evening regarding what to do if the strike goes ahead."