Varadkar criticises confidence vote as he reiterates support for Garda Commissioner

Varadkar Criticises Confidence Vote As He Reiterates Support For Garda Commissioner
The Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cillian Sherlock, PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has reiterated that the Government has “full confidence” in Commissioner Drew Harris after the Garda Representative Association (GRA) overwhelmingly voted against his leadership on Wednesday.

His comments come after almost 99 per cent of gardaí who voted in the ballot organised by the GRA expressed no confidence in the force’s most senior officer.


The unprecedented vote stemmed from discontent within the force, mostly around the commissioner’s plan to return to a pre-pandemic roster from November 6th.

Speaking to reporters in Foynes, Co Limerick, Mr Varadkar said there were issues within An Garda Síochána to be addressed but added that the non-binding GRA ballot was “not the way to solve industrial-relations disputes”.

He said gardaí should engage with the Workplace Relations Commission on the matter.

“I can understand why they want to keep the old roster, it’s very family friendly, involves working maybe 150 days a year, albeit very long days.


“I also understand why the Garda Commissioner wants to go back to the old agreed roster because that meant the guards were around more often when we needed them. That’s in the interest of the public too.

Drew Harris
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

“But there’s always room for compromise and this isn’t the way you come to a compromise.”


Announcing the result of the ballot on Wednesday, GRA general secretary Ronan Slevin claimed Minister for Justice Helen McEntee was refusing to engage with the association and had not held a meeting with the representative body since she came back to post in June following maternity leave – apart from a conversation at a passing out parade at Templemore College.

Garda Commissioner says no confidence vote felt li...
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He said Simon Harris, who stood in as justice minister in Ms McEntee’s absence, had met GRA representatives in February and April.

Asked by reporters on Thursday if it was acceptable that Ms McEntee had not engaged with the GRA, Mr Varadkar said: “I have to check on that. You know, all ministers meet with representative bodies all the time. I’m sure she has met them, I’ll double-check on that.”

Ms McEntee had defended her decision not to respond to a request for a meeting with the GRA by saying the personalised nature of the organisation’s confidence ballot put her “in a position not able to meet with them”.


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