High salary no substitute for political leadership in Gardai

12 December 2017

The Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin, has questioned the Government decision to potentially offer the new Garda Commission a salary of in excess of €250,000.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The idea that our problems with An Garda Síochána have their roots in the pay of the Commissioner is a convenient cop out for successive Ministers for Justice.

“For my own part I was centrally involved in issues of accountability and behaviour that date back 20 years.  This problem has been endemic.

“I think the idea that paying somebody a salary 25% higher than the Taoiseach is a panacea for our problems with the Gardaí is naïve in the extreme.

“This decision will have profound implications for public pay policy.

“At the heart of the problem involving the Gardaí was the inability and unwillingness of Ministers for Justice and the Department of Justice to demand accountability and best practice.

“Rather both served as effective apologists for the force when it was challenged.  For me the walking away from the Garda Inspectorate report commissioned under the HRA was the proof of this.

“One of the reasons the Gardaí have not lived up to expectations is because the political system set those expectations too low.

“The establishment of the Policing Authority, at Labour’s insistence not Fine Gael’s plan as they often falsely allude, constitutes the first fundamental change in Garda accountability in the state’s history.

“We were at least able to fill the Commissioners job at the last chance of offering.  We were not able to fill the Secretary General’s job in the Department of Justice. 

“Should we now proceed to recruit here at €250,000 too and again pay the recipient 25% more than his counterparts in Taoiseach’s, Finance and other Departments?

“The idea that this move will not put upward pressure on public service pay at the upper level is a nonsense.  It will do nothing else.

“And it will be entirely inevitable, as we’ve already seen in the health sector, if trade unions seek to bridge the gap between management and workers in response.”

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