Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter must immediately adopt a new, more conciliatory, approach to An Garda Síochána in order to address a crisis of morale in the force, which he has described as “reaching a tipping point.”
Deputy Martin said: “I have met dozens of gardaí in recent weeks who feel completely ignored by government. It is clear to me that morale in the force is at an all-time low and we are now approaching a tipping point. Gardaí are telling me and our representatives across the country that they are frankly fed up with a continued attack on frontline services and their pay and conditions. Garda stations have closed, crime in many areas in the country is up significantly, particularly theft and burglaries and gardaí, many of whom are in financial difficulty, are facing more cuts to their take-home pay.
“Minister Alan Shatter is going to have to change his approach very quickly f he is to have any chance of winning back the confidence of rank and file gardaí and restoring morale within the force.
“We have seen how this Minister has dealt with criticism of his approach in the past – he has completely dismissed any negative analysis of his performance. But the reality is this Minister’s decisions and the high handed way in which he presides over the gardaí is failing the force and the communities depending on it.
“Minister Shatter should immediately call together the representative associations of the gardaí, put aside his combative approach, listen to their concerns and act on them. We cannot have a situation where rank and file members of An Garda Síochána are telling public representatives that they feel ignored and completely abandoned by the government. Minister Alan Shatter appears to be in complete denial about the extent of the problem.”