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Garda body seeks trade union rights July 20, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Human Rights, Labour relations, Trade Unions.
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[Cedar Lounge Revolution isn't a news site, but it looks like we may be the first to report on a development that has been made public in recent days. I haven't seen this reported in any news media, and I coudn't find any reference to it in searches, including on the GRA, AGSI and EuroCOP websites.]

A legal compalint has been lodged against Ireland for its refusal to allow members of An Garda Síochána join a trade union.

The complaint has been brought under a human rights charter at the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.

The European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) lodged the legal challenge in June with the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), a parallel structure to the European Court of Human Rights. The legal challenge was made public by the ECSR on Wednesday.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 states that “a member of the Garda Síochána shall not be or become a member of any trade union”. It allows gardaí to form staff associations without full trade union status. The two main bodies established for that purpose are the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI)

The document initiating the legal challenge states that the staff associations do not have access to the Labour Court or the Labour Relations Commission. “The police associations are not allowed to join an umbrella organisation such as ICTU. This means that the police organisations are kept out of the overall negotiations that ICTU conduct on behalf of their members, such as those on salaries”, EuroCOP says.

The Irish law is alleged to breach three articles of the Revised European Social Charter: the right to organise, the right to bargain collectively, and the right to information and consultation.

The case is being taken by EuroCOP on behalf of the AGSI because complaints against a state must be taken by a European organisation registered with the Council of Europe.

http://www.coe.int/T/DGHL/Monitoring/SocialCharter/NewsCOEPortal/CC83_en.asp

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Comments»

1. WorldbyStorm - July 20, 2012

Very interesting indeed. Sign of the times perhaps? (and information like this is news that’s well worth breaking – nice one Tomboktu).

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2. neilcaff - July 20, 2012

Very interesting.

Hopefully you can have a sensible discussion on the left about the pros and cons of the police associating with the trade union movement.

Here in Britain the debate is saturated with the most unbelievable childishness and posturing it’s almost impossible to have any sort of reasonable discussion.

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Tomboktu - July 20, 2012

I was at the European Gay Police Association’s conference in Dublin at the end of last month. One of the workshops I went to was on the role of unions in supporting LGBT staff. The speakers were from the GRA, AGSI, PSEU (because they have done some work on that topic and one of their officials was general secretary of the AGSI) and Congress. The Congress speaker referred to the non-union status of the garda bodies being a breach of human rights, but his legal point of reference was an ILO instrument.

Some of the police from other countries spoke about their unions. A nightmare for an Irish or UK government would be the Belgian situation, where there are a number of police unions, all politically alligned. (This presents a problem for the Belgian lgbt police association: it does not want to be aligned politically, but would like to forge links with the police unions, putting it the position of trying to build all the bridges in one step.)

I see that the EuroCOP complaint on behalf of the AGSI says:

“At present many European countries permit their Police organisations to haveTrade Union rights including the right to strike. This has been shown not to cause any adverse effects on the public including public safety.”

That’ll put fear int he heart of the mandarins on St Stephen’s Green!

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RosencrantzisDead - July 21, 2012

I cannot see much of a problem with it myself. The US and Canada have unionised police and this has not yet triggered a total societal breakdown.

More power to them.

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EWI - July 21, 2012

Police unions have proven relatively easy to split off from other workers for opportunistic right-wingers (see Wisconsin).

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RosencrantzisDead - July 21, 2012

As recent history demonstrates, there are few unions that are immune from such influence. Although, I agree that many police unions in the US have lumped with the GOP.

And the GRA and the AGSI do have a rather vocal “hang ‘em and flog ‘em” tendency within them.

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Michael Carley - July 21, 2012

It is worth remembering that the Police Federation was founded after a police union was broken. Also, on recent demos, I have tended to find the police quite sympathetic (they are public sector workers hoping for a pension, as well).

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3. James - July 21, 2012

Seriously – what is it with Cedarlounge and reporting Garda stories recently – the Garda are, in general, anti-democratic scumbags. Rossport, Brian Rossiter, Frank Short, Dean Lyons etc. The police are there to curb democracy – if they do form a Union it’ll be like IBEC – another right-wing combination.

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que - July 21, 2012

” the police are there to curb democracy” – no they are not. They might be undisciplined here and politically controlled but reality is the police are necessary.

On topic – really cant see a push for union rights as a bad thing.

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James - July 22, 2012

some type of police force may be necessary – but the garda are beyond reform. corrupt to the bone, brutal to the bone, anti-democratic to the bone.

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Tomboktu - July 21, 2012

I haven’t searched through the posts, but my memory of recent discussion of gardaí here is that we had
– one (or was it two?) posts on gay rights that reflected badly on garda management,
– one post on the consultation about the new garda strategic that was skeptical about their approach, and
– one post about union rights that happens to be about the garda non-unions.

I would read that thus; gay rights, policing, union rights rather than garda stories.

BTW, if the AGSI/EuroCOP wins on the second of the rights they are claiming, then there are many, many more outside Garda HQ who will not be happy: Michael O’Leary is explicitly opposed to a right to collective bargaining being introduced here.

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James - July 22, 2012

you need to go through the posts – cedarlounge is reading like the garda gazette. no one cares about the garda trade unionism – no one likes the gardai. people still remember what they’ve done to the citizens of this country.

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jandc67@eircom.net - July 21, 2012

YOUR ILL-INFORMED VITRIOLIC BILE HAS NO PLACE IN THIS DISCUSSION…TAKE IT TO SOME OTHER SITE PLEASE.

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James - July 22, 2012

this is a leftist site – if you want to lick garda arse go somewhere else.

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que - July 22, 2012

But all your doing is throwing out purile comments about the gardai as if somehow you are contributing to finding a better solution to the needs of communities to be policed. Short of congratulating you for the being the most radical of all radicals and the last true free spirit fighting the power what contribution are you making to this leftist site?

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James - July 22, 2012

my contribution is trying to steer people away from sympathic garda arse licking. as for policing – leave it to civilians, to communities.

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que - July 22, 2012

“leave it to civilians, to communities”.
Even Iceland with its strong social bonds and small size has a police force. Is it plausible that communities could self police?

I see parallels with approaches to banking and regulation. Ordinary Seamus and Sile cant have the financial sophistication to be able to analyse with certainty whether certain financial products are in their interest or not. The answer is financial regulation.

How if an ordinary person is not empowered with the necessary toolset to identify the stability of a bank in a world without regulation are they instead capable of identifying criminal financial actions conducted with great sophistication?
The Gardai are definitely not a professional body. A Garda would be the first to back that up I think but replacing an organised police force with citizen policing seems to be unworkable.
It has a contribution to make indeed but regretfully I cant see it as a solution

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4. Jim Monaghan - July 21, 2012

Compensation for a cop injured exceeds by far that for anyone else.They manipulate overtime. We need less cops and less stations. Even accepting their role, many functions could be civilianised. Look at the nonsense of reporting structures in the bail jumper case in todays paper.
We need a peoples police force, the Gardai are not it or anywhere near it

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EWI - July 21, 2012

Well, the Guards are based on the old RIC, after all, and “peoples police force” is the very opposite of the purpose that colonial entity was meant for.

I must look up a good account of the Republican Police, for comparison. Does anyone have a suggestion here?

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DSCH - July 22, 2012

Whatever about the ethos of the police force, in terms of personnel two thirds of Guards who joined the force in the period 1922-52 had been members of the IRA. Only 1.5 percent had been members of the RIC, and half of those were former IRA men. During the same period the five western seaboard counties of Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway and Mayo provided nearly 40 percent of the forces members. These counties had been Republican strongholds in the 1923 post civil war election and became Fianna Fail strongholds thereafter. Source: A History of An Garda Siochana, Liam McNiffe.

If the new state and its police force were conservative, they were not unrepresentative of the society that produced them.

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EWI - July 22, 2012

That’s of interest, but not the point I was making. The RIC model of policing was the one that the Guards inherited (minus the paramilitary trappings, to the credit of the new state).

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Bartley - July 22, 2012

Honestly, I\’m struggling to see any parallels what-so-ever between the RIC and the force that replaced them.

The RIC was an armed force, the Garda has always been unarmed (other than specialist units).

The RIC was militarized, the Garda is not.

The RIC were poorly paid, the Garda is well compensated by any standards.

The RIC were engaged in widespread surveillance of the local population, the Garda much less so if at all.

RIC officers were highly constrained in who they could marry, where the Garda are totally free in that regard.

The RIC acted as force of foreign occupation and held themselves at arms-length from the local population, whereas the Garda has already been subservient to the democratic process and are fully integrated into their local communities.

In fact, the two forces could hardly be more different.

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EWI - July 22, 2012

You will have noted that I’ve already mentioned that the Guards dropped the overt military trappings of the RIC. They have not, however, dropped it entirely (the debate over whether to arm the Guards in the Emergency, the emergence of the LSF/LDF as offshoots).

The modern-day Guard is well-compensated. The factors causing this are tied to politics.

The Guards do surveil the population. Why you would claim otherwise is baffling.

I’d be interested in hearing more about the marriage business. I do know that extensive background checks on family members are a reality of Garda membership.

The claim that Guards are “subservient to the democratic process” and “fully integrated into their local communities” is laughable. You clearly haven’t been paying attention over the decades to any of the scandals which have brought this reality to the fore.

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5. que - July 22, 2012

“RIC officers were highly constrained in who they could marry, where the Garda are totally free in that regard. ”

thats interesting – wasnt aware of that.

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6. Bartley - July 22, 2012

@EWI

They have not, however, dropped it entirely (the debate over whether to arm the Guards in the Emergency, the emergence of the LSF/LDF as offshoots).

If I\’m not mistaken, the LDF was organized as an off-shoot of the Irish Army, not the Garda.

In any case, the Emergency was just that … an extra-ordinary time, when chaos reigned across Europe, so it was hardly surprising that a few niceities were suspended here.

And of course it was a couple of decades after Independence, so it would be a massive stretch to claim that the lingering shadow of the old RIC was still at work in the early forties.

The Guards do surveil the population. Why you would claim otherwise is baffling.

You will note that I said they do is much less than the old RIC. Intel-gathering was a core mission of the old RIC (as befits a force of occupation). For most members of the Garda, that is simply not the case.

I’d be interested in hearing more about the marriage business.

A settled constable was effectively disbarred from marrying a local woman, unless he was prepared to transfer out of the county. Even then, the marriage had to be approved by senior officers.

The claim that Guards are “subservient to the democratic process” and “fully integrated into their local communities” is laughable. You clearly haven’t been paying attention over the decades to any of the scandals which have brought this reality to the fore.

A few bad apples in Donegal does a police state make.

In general, the Garda has an exemplary record in terms of respect for democracy and the rule of law.

In any case, given the anti-parallels I\’ve cited, I await some actual parallels from you demonstrating any solid resemblance between the two forces.

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Michael Carley - July 22, 2012

`Exemplary record in terms of respect for democracy and the rule of law’?

Noel Lemass; the Heavy Gang; Donegal; Sean Doherty.

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Bartley - July 22, 2012

As I said, in general … there were a few exceptions, but it could have been far, far worse.

There were for example 12 members of the Garda and one prison officer murdered by republicans during the Troubles, yet there was never a question of a Guerra Sucia style response from the security forces south of the border.

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Jim Watts - July 22, 2012

Of course, the Mahon tribunal found the guards complicit in the corruption – the Kerry Babies tribunal threw a strong light on the culture within the ‘exemplary’ guards – and let’s not forget the Ryan Commission where the guards were seen to work hand in glove with the judiciary in thwarting ANY investigation into the rape, and on occasion murder, of Irish working class children.

The Irish middle class – the exemplary Irish middle class – does love its auwl guards.

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EWI - July 22, 2012

You seem to have lived a sheltered life. Even in the part of the country that I come from, tales of Garda corruption and abuse of power (and not of sufficient interest for the press, alas) are well-known.

I suppose you never turned on your telly during the long summer of Garda trials last year, either.

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Bartley - July 22, 2012

Still, I await some solid parallels between the RIC and the Garda.

Unless by “based on”, you meant “totally different to”?

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Michael Carley - July 23, 2012

Aren’t they always just a few exceptions? The problem is not whether they are exceptions or not, but what happens afterwards. In the UK, when I have had to deal with police officers in an official capacity (organizing, or simply being on, demos, and once, when a neighbour was burgled), I have found them competent, decent and generally fine to talk to. Obviously, however, there are officers who are violent, corrupt, or otherwise not fit to hold public office and they get away with it, because that is the culture of, in particular, the Met, but also a couple of other forces.

The Garda Siochana have a long history of gross abuses, for which no officer has ever been disciplined, let alone prosecuted. That is the problem.

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Ramzi Nohra 1 - July 23, 2012

Well in fairness beating confessions out of people is a bit dirty – and although 12 murders are 12 too many, it hardly compares to the conflict in the Basque country.I suppose I am saying lets not go crazy congratulating the Guards on their restraint.

The heavy gang episode can of course be contrasted with the abysmal record of the Gardai in relation to loyalist terrorists, who killed around 40 people in the state. Not a single conviction was obtained!

(I appreciate this has nothing to do with the RIC, I just wanted to throw it in).

A Garda union sounds like a decent idea btw – regardless of the failings of the organisation itself.

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EWI - July 22, 2012

If I\’m not mistaken, the LDF was organized as an off-shoot of the Irish Army, not the Garda.

No, it was an off-shoot of the Guards which came under the wing of the Defence Forces after a while (and eventually became the FCÁ, now the RDF). That’s why the LDF units were based on Garda districts.

And I said nothing about “RIC” in this regard – the birth of the Guards was a difficult process. There was at least one mutiny, and their first leader was the fascist O’Duffy.

You will note that I said they do is much less than the old RIC. Intel-gathering was a core mission of the old RIC (as befits a force of occupation). For most members of the Garda, that is simply not the case.

This isn’t true (Pulse, even?). And ok, you can ask me how I know so much on this and I’ll say “no comment”.

A settled constable was effectively disbarred from marrying a local woman, unless he was prepared to transfer out of the county. Even then, the marriage had to be approved by senior officers.

Sounds like a mechanism to ensure loyalty not to the people but to the State, much like the Militias (predecessors of the RIC) had been moved around.

In any case, given the anti-parallels I\’ve cited, I await some actual parallels from you demonstrating any solid resemblance between the two forces.

You are the one who’s been claiming that the Guards are “subservient to the democratic process and are fully integrated into their local communities.”. As others have pointed out with examples (which you’re determined to ignore, as usual) this is not the case. Like the RIC, it’s been an unaccountable force to the population, just with a change at the top of the food chain from Dublin Castle to the Commissioner in the Phoenix Park.

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Bartley - July 23, 2012

Like the RIC, it’s been an unaccountable force to the population, just with a change at the top of the food chain from Dublin Castle to the Commissioner in the Phoenix Park.

Finally, an actual parallel between the RIC and the Garda – both forces were unaccountable.

But lets unpack that claim for a second …

First, there was an accountability deficit in almost all Irish state institutions for many decades after independence. This is how for example thousands of children were abused right under our collective noses. Was this lack of accountability a result of those institutions being “based on” their colonial fore-runners, or because of the paternalistic, secretive, cleric-deferring, and oddly paranoid sensibility that the dominant political forces brought to bear on their state-building activities?

Second, it is clearly established in law that the Garda Commissioner is appointed by the Government, which is democratically elected. It is ludicrous to compare that chain of responsibility with colonial style of administration operated by Dublin Castle.

So I\’m not sensing much of anything substantial backing up the Garda-as-the-RIC-in-blue-uniforms idea.

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7. Michael Carley - July 22, 2012

Forgot Rossport, May Day 2002, Nicky Kelly, …

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EWI - July 22, 2012

And the killing of strikers during their first couple of decades (shades of the old thuggery of the DMP and RIC).

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8. FergusD - July 23, 2012

The discussion seems to gone a bit of topic – fair enough, but what about opinions of a “real” trade union for teh Garda? I would have thought the left would welcome it as a means to try and pull them closer to the labour movement. If possible.

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LeftAtTheCross - July 23, 2012

Interesting that the case is being taken on behalf of the AGSI rather than the GRA.

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Bartley - July 23, 2012

@Fergus

… but what about opinions of a “real” trade union for the Garda?

I say, have at it!

Given how well in relative terms the Garda is compensated currently, there is unlikely to be much or any net cost to the exchequer (as in, its not a group of heavily exploited workers organizing to improve their conditions).

In fact getting them into the ICTU fold might pave the way for reforming some of the more bizarre and archaic aspects of their T&Cs, say as part of a CPA 2.0.

In terms of the Garda becoming more left-leaning, I kinda doubt it. Partially because of the raw material currently in situ within the Garda, and partially because Irish public sector unions aren\’t really that left-leaning in any real sense.

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eamonncork - July 23, 2012

I was going to contribute to this thread but then I actually read it and became completely dispirited. There really is an inordinate amount of sub Politics.ie shite swilling around above.

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9. Tomboktu - July 23, 2012

I wonder if the acquisition of trade union status and membership of ICTU by the GRA and AGSI would result in Congress becoming (even) more conservative?

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10. domain name - July 17, 2013

So you are looking to rid your girl of these unwanted stalkers when you are drawn to Willow Creek’s Black Mirror Castle. A murder mystery game is a fun way to pass the time during the twenties theme party. You Divide everyone at the party into two groups, or tribes.

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11. free internet - September 25, 2014

free internet

Garda body seeks trade union rights | The Cedar Lounge Revolution

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