Varadkar says GRA does not have ‘right’ to meet Justice Minister

Varadkar Says Gra Does Not Have ‘Right’ To Meet Justice Minister
Leo Varadkar, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cillian Sherlock, PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Garda Representative Association (GRA) does not “have a right” to a meeting with the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

His comments come after the GRA said it had not met Helen McEntee since she returned to the position in June, despite the group requesting a meeting multiple times.


Ms McEntee had met the body representing rank-and-file gardaí prior to her maternity leave.

Helen McEntee
Helen McEntee has defended her decision not to respond to a request for a meeting with the GRA. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA.

Asked if it was appropriate that Ms McEntee had not met the group since June, Mr Varadkar – who previously said he was “sure” she had – said the minister will meet the GRA next week but added it could not demand to see her.


Speaking to reporters at his party’s think-in in Limerick City, Mr Varadkar defended the minister by saying the gardai currently have their highest budget ever under Ms McEntee.

The issue was raised after almost 99% of gardai who voted in a ballot organised by the GRA expressed no confidence in Commissioner Drew Harris.

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.



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”.

Mr Varadkar said: “She didn’t meet them in recent months because she didn’t think it was appropriate while they are carrying out this ballot in relation to the Garda Commissioner.


“She is meeting them next week and I did not direct her to do so.”

Asked about the fact Minister Simon Harris had met the GRA during his time filling in for Ms McEntee, Mr Varadkar said it was a “different point of time”.

He added: “I don’t think any representative body should think that they have the right to demand a meeting with a minister on their terms.”

Mr Varadkar described the dispute as “all a bit silly”.


Asked about whether the GRA should have a fair expectation to be able to meet a Minister for Justice, Mr Harris said rank-and-file gardai are “clearly frustrated”.

“They have every right to have those frustrations aired. Of course, you have to air them in a process that is appropriate, and I think the challenge now is to try and find a process or a forum where these issues can be addressed, where the concerns of gardai can be taken on board, and the work and the requirements of the Commissioner are also respected.”

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