Drew Harris ‘baffled’ over Garda Representative Association ‘snub’

Drew Harris ‘Baffled’ Over Garda Representative Association ‘Snub’
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he has not received an explanation behind the snub. Photo: PA
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The Garda Commissioner has said he is “baffled” by the decision of the largest Garda staff organisation not to invite him to its annual conference.

Garda Representative Association (GRA) president Brendan O’Connor said the decision by its central executive committee was arrived at after a “very honest and forthright debate”.


The unprecedented move comes amid ongoing discontent among Garda members on a series of issues, including a long-running wrangle on proposed changes to working rosters.

Rank and file gardaí also have issues around internal disciplinary and suspension processes along with other policies implemented by the Garda leadership.

Oireachtas justice committee
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: Niall Carson/PA


Last September, more than 98 per cent of GRA members voted no confidence in Mr Harris.

The conference is to take place in Co Mayo in April.

Speaking in Tullamore in Co Offaly, Mr Harris said he has not received an explanation behind the snub.

“I am somewhat baffled. I’ve heard nothing beyond what’s been issued as a public statement,” Mr Harris said.


“I point to the ongoing negotiations in respect of rosters, which are near conclusion.

“I would point to the very active support I give to the association, both in the pay talks and in the WRC [Work Relations Commission] in terms of allowances.

“But also point to the advances we have made in terms of welfare services within the organisation, the 500-plus members who sought and attained promotion last year and the over 3,000 who have put themselves through a course on human rights and policing in their own time.

“It is an organisation where there is improvement, in terms of the equipment, the uniform, the computers and IT that are available.


“All of these things are very positive so against that, I do find it baffling that the GRA haven’t invited me, but they have given no further explanation than their public commentary.”

Mr O’Connor previously said that morale within the Garda was in “tatters”.



“This decision simply reflects the breakdown in trust in the relationship between the commissioner and the rank and file members we represent who gave us a unanimous and unambiguous indication of their feelings last September,” Mr O’Connor said.

However, Mr Harris said he has a “very, very positive relationship” with Garda members on the front line.

“I’m their commissioner but that gives me huge responsibilities in terms of their welfare.

“My first responsibility is obviously towards protecting the public and protecting the Republic of Ireland but beyond that then I have a huge responsibility for their welfare,” he added.

“We have invested hugely in terms of that. We have invested hugely in terms of the equipment and I believe that An Garda Síochána is a very positive organisation.

“I point to the 6,300 people who have just recently applied to join An Garda Síochána. It is a good career and we are actively recruiting.

“We have upwards now of a thousand vacancies, so we encourage all those who have applied to stick with the process and prepare for the process ahead.”

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