By Rebecca Black, PA
Members of An Garda Síochána are preparing to take to the streets for a protest “day of action”.
The Association of Garda Sergeant and Inspectors (AGSI) will stage a protest march on Monday to the force’s headquarters in the Phoenix Park in Dublin over roster concerns.
Gardaí were moved to a new roster during the Covid-19 pandemic and the AGSI said “undertakings by the Garda Commissioner (Drew Harris) that we would return to our normal working patterns have not been honoured”.
Last week, the commissioner described the planned protest march as “unnecessary” and “not particularly helpful”.
He said roster issues have been examined for three-and-a-half years and have moved to an external process at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
On Monday, 100 members of the AGSI will take part in the day of action to draw attention to concerns around health, safety and welfares issues relating to the roster.
Representatives from 31 branches along with the National Executive will march to Garda Headquarters where the general secretary, Antoinette Cunningham, and president, Paul Curran, will hand a letter over for the commissioner to outline the membership’s concerns.
Ms Cunningham said the move is a “clear sign of the frustration, stress and anger that members are feeling in relation to their working arrangements”.
“And in particular, given that this roster has been extended 15 times in three years,” she said.
“Policing the Covid-19 pandemic and responding to the National Emergency and playing our part in policing during the crisis was a source of great pride to Sergeants and Inspectors, but previous commitments given by the Garda Commissioner that members would return to their normal work pattern have not been honoured.
“The commissioner is now trying to impose a Roster without agreement, and this is unacceptable.
“AGSI have appealed on a number of occasions, including on Wednesday, last week, for the Garda Commissioner to engage directly with them on the issue of Rosters. However, he is insisting on elevating the matter to the WRC dispute process which AGSI believe is premature at this time.
“We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members and the National Executive will meet next week to discuss our next steps.”
Separately, the International Council of Police Representative Associations (ICPRA) have issued a statement of support for the AGSI.
General secretary Calum Steele said: “The International police union community stands full square with our colleagues in AGSI as they embark on this unprecedented action in protest over their duty rosters.”