Irish Justice Minister cancels appearance at GRA annual conference

Irish Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern cancelled his scheduled appearance at the  Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual conference today after the text of a critical speech to be delivered by the association’s outgoing president, Michael O’Boyce, was circulated.  According to the iol report 

In the speech, Mr O’Boyce was intending to say gardaí and other public sector workers had endured an “unrelenting, distasteful and vitriolic attack from the Government and their wealthy cronies” during the past year and a half.

“This was distasteful and unbelievable considering the role garda take in society,” a copy of the address stated.

“It most definitely verged on incitement to hatred.”

The outgoing GRA president, who steps down at the end of this year’s annual conference, wrote gardai and Irish workers generally have been betrayed by a “self-serving, overpaid, under-worked and dishonest” Government.

“We are angry that we, our children and our children’s children have been sacrificed by this government to protect the people who bankrolled your party and robbed the Irish People,” he wrote.

“We are angry at the arrogance of a government corrupted by years of power has lost touch with the reality of life on a modest salary; if they ever knew it at all.

“A government whose only agenda is to protect the economic traitors.”

Focusing on Fianna Fáil, Mr O’Boyce accused the senior coalition partners of sacrificing the greater good and prosperity of the nation because bankers and speculators had bought the party.

“Truly, a government of national sabotage,” he said.

The government had created a new aristocracy that chooses whether to retain state pensions while still working and spends vast resources on the few, while taking pay from the majority, he said.

Mr O’Boyce also called for policing recruitment powers to be removed from Mr Ahern.

Policing numbers was being used as an election gimmick by Fianna Fáil and the GRA were intent on ending the “obnoxious trick”, he said.

The Irish Times has Dermot Ahern’s response

Mr Ahern said he was extremely disappointed and dismayed to have read the circulated remarks.

The Minister described the speech as an “unprecedented political intervention” by a Garda representative which “have no place in a modern democracy”.

He said: “They besmirch the long-held excellent reputation that An Garda Siochána has earned for serving the people and institutions of this State without fear or favour. No democrat could tolerate such political interventions by any member of a police force.”

Mr Ahern said he refutes “utterly” the allegations made in the speech and that the “force is ill-served by such political interventions. In light of these facts it is impossible for me to attend the GRA conference.”

After Dermot Ahern’s withdrawal, the speech was pulled.  But the mood at the conference was clearly hostile to the Justice Minister.  As the Irish Times report also notes

Delegates cheered and clapped when GRA secretary general PJ Stone announced Mr Ahern would not be attending.

Prompted by Mr Stone, there was a sustained standing ovation for Mr O’Boyce for having “the courage, the conviction to represent guards in times of need”.

Earlier,  gardaí criticised the Minister over his remarks that the force was among the best paid and resourced in Europe. Delegates at the conference claimed they are enduring third-world conditions in stations around the country.

Garda Ultan Sherlock, based at Stepaside in the Dún Laoghaire division, said it was absolutely farcical that Mr Ahern ranked the force among the best off in Europe, earlier this year. “Our colleagues in Macroom are about to walk out of the station, because they are working in a hovel,” he said. “The Garda training centre is empty, members are leaving everyday.”

Delegates passed a motion condemning Mr Ahern as being out of touch with the reality over Garda resources.

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  • Michaelhenry

    SINN FEIN move into policing, FIANNA FAIL, move away from policing.

  • This greedy, unrepentant, self important and now cowardly little gobshite has forgotten who his employers are.

    The only thing that saddens me is I once actually supported this bunch of parasites.

    I cannot wait for the next election.

  • Argosjohn

    “This greedy, unrepentant, self important and now cowardly little gobshite has forgotten who his employers are.”

    If this refers to a garda loud mouth, i agree with you.

  • Would the last F/F supporter kindly close the door on his way out.

  • What Fianna Fáil and Dermot Ahern don’t realise, it appears, is that the GRA is hardly the bastion of radicalism in Ireland and if the 11,000+ members of that organisation, ordinary rank and file Gardaí, are locking horns with the Government, then that doesn’t bode well for FF in future elections. Describing the Government as ‘protectors’ of economic traitors is strong stuff from any trade union – but from the GRA is powerful indeed. Are there junior officers in darkened rooms already planning the ‘coup’? If and when the people take to the street to demand the Government step aside – will the Government be able to rely on the Gardaí to enforce the ‘rule of law’? Already the Government are running scared, Bertie Ahern had to give up his pension today and other FFers are following suit. The move to get them to that point only started on Friday…. There’s a cold wind blowing for FF – it’s going to be a long Summer for the party….and backbenchers may not be relishing the return to their constituencies to face the wrath of the voters.

  • old school

    Ther Gardai will just have to share the pain like everyone else.
    They are amongst the highest paid in europe, if not the World.
    They threatened that there will be “corrupt Gardai” if they don’t get their way.
    Like whats new?

  • No problem with well paid people taking their share of the pain, but F/F are amongst the top earners and have taken every opportunity to feather their own nests whilst cutting the welfare and unemployment payments of the poorest people in this country.

  • old school

    2 wrongs don’t make a right, Pippakin.
    The Gardai would still evict some family tomorrow if the State orders them.
    They have evicted many working class people in the past, defended the State, defended Shell in their thievery, bashed peaceful protesters looking for equality, and now they want our sympathy because the gravy train has stopped.
    Feck ’em.

  • alan56

    Such obviously party political statements just don’t seem to sit well with an impartial police service in a modern democracy

  • Free State Barsteward

    Pippakin,

    Don’t feel too bad, I was taken in last time by their promises/lies.

    The government has completely lost touch with ordinary people as displayed by the pensions debacle over the last few days. The sense of entitlement that pervades is astonishing.

    While personally, I must admit I don’t have much confidence in Lab or FG (probably due my staunch FF family background), anything is better than than this current government.

    So yes, roll on an election.

  • old school

    The Gardai slept all through the white collar corruption that led Ireland to it’s present mess.
    Had they investigated all the financial institutions earlier instead of beating up crusties in O Connell Street on Mayday, they might not be facing cuts today.
    Karma’s a bitch.

  • old school

    As much as I agree with your ‘punch line’, I have to defend the law. The garda are there to enforce the law, not write it. It is not for them to decide which laws they will enforce, or not.

    In a way they are the most powerful of the unions, they cannot go on strike, but they can protest, traditionally the police force in every country has the support of the population. F/F, if they had a brain between them, would recognise the danger they face by treating their own law enforcement officers with such open contempt.

  • old school

    Thats the thing. They didn’t enforce the law.
    Did you see any of those responsible for white collar crime in Ireland led out Madoff-style?? Is Ahern, Fitzpatrick, Fingleton etc in any fix with he Gardai?

    FF have not treated them with contempt. They are overpaid as it is, As is the 26 county Army.
    The Chief of Staff of which earns more than the Chief of Staff if the U.S Army.
    Time the Gardai learnt that the money is just not there.
    Now start arresting those responsible.

  • I understand, but the implication is the rank and file Garda are equally responsible and they are not.

    Everything you say is true, but the Garda, like any police force, must be well paid. The risks the ordinary Gard takes outweigh any other consideration.

    We should all be looking at the senior members of the political parties, the Garda and anyone else who has colluded in this disaster.

  • old school

    More deaths occur in construction industry than in the Gardai so that squashes your extra money for extra risk argument.
    The Gardai had a monumental fail in doing anything to investigate crooked politicians, bankers and developers. Not a single jailing occured. Now they want taxpayers to cough up more.
    Too busy framing Republicans and socialists I assume, or juggling their buy to let investments.

  • Unfair, you are lumping them all together. This is about the ordinary Garda they are well paid but not extraordinarily so.

    It is true, the Gards have failed to implement the law in an astonishing number of areas and their leadership needs a good clear out, but the ordinary Gards do what almost everyone has to do, and that is as they are told.

    If republicans managed to get elected in the south they would have to work with the Gards. We have to recognise the Gardai are a ;special case’, every government in every country has to do the same. If the Gardai have incompetent or dishonest leaders, that is the fault of those who elected them: the politicians.

  • Mack

    F/F, if they had a brain between them, would recognise the danger they face by treating their own law enforcement officers with such open contempt.

    How are they treating them with open contempt? Ireland is part of the Eurozone, deficits are limited to 3% of GDP under the stability and growth pact, last year ours was over 14%.

    There are two alternatives –

    1. Follow the current path
    2. Leave the Euro and default on debts (Which would due to the inevitable currency devaluation reduce the average Garda salary from around €60k to somewhere between €30-40k), as we’d still be struggling to pay off debts – there’d be no payrises for a long time either..

  • old school

    Pippa, in your first two paragraphs you stated, “they are well paid”, and “they failed to implement the law”.
    When I get elected to the All Ireland Government, Pippakin, you can be sure there’ll be a major de-bastardisation of the system.
    Everyone will have to re-apply for their previous posts.
    Those who threaten corruption if they’re not well paid will be out on their ear.

  • old school

    If you sack the lot what do you do in the interim. All police should be well, not overpaid. The ordinary Gard is not to blame for what his seniors have been doing, or indeed not doing.

    I wish you luck. it is as though the last twenty years have somehow devalued us as a people, and that has come from the top.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Theres a bigger issue here.
    For years Irish Ministers of Justice, British Home Secretaries have been going to Conferences held by the “bodies representing” the Police.
    Heath Secreataries have ben attending nurses conferences.
    Education Sectretaries going to Teachers conferences.

    Nothing so working class as “trade unions” of course.
    The format used to be that the Minister/Home gave a patronising and boring speech to the assembled cops/nurses/teachers and they applauded politely.
    The format in the past 20 years has been that the Minister shows up and is given the silent tretment or worse by people who are nominally his “staff”.
    Initially this was rare….now its commonplace……Mary Coughlan at a Teachers Conference recently.

    The cops, nurses, teachers now treat ANY Minister of ANY persuasion with open hostility. These people are now deemed the Enemy.
    The pattern is now clearly established that an Opposition Spokesman will promise the Earth and fail to deliver.
    So two things.
    Why have the ridiculous charade of inviting politicians?.
    And why should Dermot Ahern or indeed ANY politician put himself/herself thru it.
    The Minister ALWAYS comes off worse in these things.

  • Alias

    It’s a good time for a revolution. The police would stand idly by and the let the politicians hang… or else help pull the ropes.

    He’s right about the role of “economic traitors” but wrong about whom they are. It wasn’t bankrupt business that made the taxpayers liable for their debts. The europhile government did that in order to ensure that no EU bank lost money as a result of its reckless lending to banks in this state. Systemic risk applies to all eurosystems banks, and is no longer an assessment that national governments make in isolation from the eurosystem or the dictates of the supranational government in the EU.

    Anyway, it’s bad form for a union to take on an overtly political role. It shouldn’t be engaging in rants about the muppets in government in policies unrelated to its own particular service. That’s a blogger’s job. On the other hand, these muppets are quislings so if revolution is in the air, so be it…

    A police officer in Ireland gets 3 months training but is paid more than a medical doctor in the UK with 7 years training. Nice work if you can get it.

    P.S. The server load time for logged-on users is absolutely abysmal. Is there a ‘miserable users’ group? *suspicious look*

  • F/F allowed and possibly even encouraged this country to ‘sleep walk’ into the biggest crisis since independence, they had 10 billion from Europe and it has taken them and political cronies twenty years to piss it up the wall.

    It is going to take someone with the courage to actually stand up to the ‘elite’ and cut the huge salaries, pensions, expenses and other perks they consider theirs by some sort of divine right.

  • Mack

    They (FF) played their part in stoking the boom alright – cheered on by the very unions who criticize them now! The same unions who’s members benefitted from two rounds of ‘benchmarking’ (translated as massive pay rises) we could not afford!

    Mr Ahern had been speaking about people who talk down the economy during his speech to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference (watch his complete speech here).

    ‘Sitting on the sidelines, cribbing and moaning is a lost opportunity. I don’t know how people who engage in that don’t commit suicide because frankly the only thing that motivates me is being able to actively change something,’ he said.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0704/economy.html

  • Sitting on the sidelines cribbing and moaning is a lost opportunity. I dont know how people who engage in that dont commit suicide because frankly the only thing that motivates me is being able to actively change something.

    What? Does Mr Ahern not realise all most of us can do is sit on the sidelines cribbing and moaning? If he is so in favour of changing ‘something’ where the hell was he when it was possible to prevent the fall.

    I said ‘other cronies’ and as far as I am concerned that includes Garda chiefs, Union chiefs, and anybody else who had their noses so deep in the trough all they could see was the trough!

  • Alias

    “F/F allowed and possibly even encouraged this country to ’sleep walk’ into the biggest crisis since independence, they had 10 billion from Europe and it has taken them and political cronies twenty years to piss it up the wall.”

    Actually, Ireland has been subsidising the EU, and not the other way around.

    Most EU money goes to the farmers with subsidies keeping that backward industry dependent on grants, offering no benefit to the Irish state and forcing the nation to pay higher prices for food. The farming industry did better outside of the EU with its boom time being the 60s. The progress it made during that era came to a grinding halt after Ireland joined the EEC.

    EU aid as a percentage of GDP was circa 1%. It is typical europhile nonsense to claim that the other 99% of GDP was in any way dependent on it.

    Since ratifying the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, Ireland has given 108 billion in aid to the EU. That gift of the Irish nation natural resources to the EU is the unprocessed value of the fishing stock in its territorial waters. The processed value is substantially higher.

    The EU also drains money out of this state via VAT and billions are directly lost to it via missing trader VAT fraud. Billions are also drained out of the economy by EU migrants in the form of repatriated earnings and welfare payments. In addition to billions being squandered by the EU generating income from this state which is then reallocated by the EU in this state on its pet projects and is not counted as money given to the EU, with the purpose of this being to create loyalty from Irish citizens to the EU who then become dependent on this Irish-generated budget that is spent on them. That’s what happens when you allow a foreign agency to spend your money wastefully in your state.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, the unprocessed value of fishing stock extracted from Irish territorial waters since joining the EU is 228 billion. That subsidy by Ireland to the EU means that Ireland is, contrary to europhile propaganda, one of the biggest net contributors to the EU per capita.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Oh give me a break. The police make plenty of money and have better benefits than most other places. Come off it

  • Alias

    I was not suggesting that we received more than we gave, far from it! I am against the EU and have wondered on another thread how bad it would be for us if we got out, I am inclined to think it might well be worth it.

    All I was trying to say is the government have been playing ducks and drakes with the country for a long time, and during that time the government has usually been F/F.

    Brian MacAodh

    The Gardai are well paid, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is with their leaders. We need to get rid of the organ grinders, not their monkeys.

  • Greenflag

    The real reason a lot of Gardai in Ireland are pissed is because quite a number of them got ‘burnt’ in the property bubble burst when their second and third ‘rentals’ failed to increase in value and now lie empty .

    Which is why they now want ‘permission’ to ‘moonlight’ to make up their income loss . Perhaps our elected representatives will also demand ‘moonshining ‘ rights as well as our top public service mandarins .

    When a small number of people become obsessed with greed society can usually still function . But when when whole tranches of society become greed obsessed then you get a downward spiral into murder, mayhem ,and societal chaos .:(

  • Everyone talks about the property bubble bursting, but the prices shown on properties for sale are still incredibly high. Most properties are empty because we do not have the population to occupy them. The property levels need to fall enough to make buying a real investment and not a noose around someones neck.

  • Greenflag

    pippikin ,

    True enough but it’s only a matter of time before the ‘reality’ will need facing . That’ll probably come about when enough of the ’empties’ have been demolished to allow slippage in the price levels without sparking off a complete collapse -imo .

  • Demolishing houses, new ones? Oh what a mess!

  • Alias

    Very true. But only the young ‘uns who were in awe of the property portfolios of the older boys in blue and carried on the old Garda tradition of landlordism for too long after the older ones had stopped adding to their portfolios.

  • Alias

    Err, that reply should have been to Greenflag.