11 April 2006

Garda sergeants vote not to co-operate with Reserve


11/04/2006 - 13:25:35

Middle ranking gardaí today voted against co-operating with the 'hobby bobbies' of the proposed Garda Reserve.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) had appealed for strong support for its policy of non-co-operation to strengthen its hand in negotiations with Justice Minister Michael McDowell, who is planning to begin recruitment for the volunteer force in the coming months.

But at its annual conference in Killarney, members voted by a slim 55% majority (71 votes to 58) to approve the non-cooperation policy.

There had been complaints from delegates opposed to the motion that the association’s national executive had not explained how a policy of non-co-operation would work.

There was overwhelming support for the two less controversial motions on the Reserve, which called on Mr McDowell to withdraw the proposal due to a lack of resources and due to the lack of training facilities and risk to health and safety.

During the two-hour debate on the motions, delegates expressed doubts about the calibre of people who would join the Reserve.

Sergeant Eddie Murphy from the Dublin South Central Division said it would attract a mixed grill of do-gooders and messianic zealots.

He said delegates should be strongly opposed to allowing in 'Playstation Cops'.

“It is sabotage. It’s a thundering disgrace,” he said.

Sergeant Diarmuid O’Shea from the Kerry division said the Reserve force would dilute the authority of the force.

“Tell the minister why we need 4,000 extra gardaí, not 4,000 hobby-bobbies,” he said.

The vote for non-co-operation is a blow to Justice Minister Michael McDowell, who had warned the AGSI they would be breaking the law if they fail to comply with the Reserve voted through in the Criminal Justice Bill.

But if the Garda Representative Association also votes not to co-operate with the Reserve at its conference next month, it will make the introduction of the volunteer force virtually impossible.

Sergeant Paul McDermott from Roscommon/Galway East told AGSI delegates that the introduction of the Reserve was putting the cart before the horse.

He said his rural station had just two gardaí on duty to cover a whole district at weekends.

“Until we’re properly resourced, we shouldn’t accept this reserve,” he said.

Sergeant Larry Brady from the Dublin North Central division questioned how up to 4,000 recruits to the Reserve could be trained at a time when the Garda College in Templemore was pre-occupied with the expansion of the force.

“Our in-service training people are put to the pin of their collar to keep up with training as it stands. Who is going to train our Reserve?”

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