Irish Daily Star


- ■■Michael O’TOOLE Crime and Defence Editor

RANK and file gardaí yesterday reacted furiously to the decision of Justice Minister Helen McEntee to snub their annual conference.

The minister declined to attend next week’s conference of the 11,000-strong Garda Representa­tive Associatio­n after it refused to invite Garda Commission­er Drew Harris – but the body has slammed her move.

President Brendan O’Connor and General Secretary Ronan Slevin issued a joint statement after Ms McEntee confirmed she would not be attending.

Ms McEntee said she asked the GRA to reconsider its snubbing of Mr Harris — and that it would not be appropriat­e to attend the conference because it would undermine the office of the Garda Commission­er.

That refusal to invite the commission­er came in the wake of the associatio­n’s unpreceden­ted vote of no confidence in the commission­er last year.

Mr O’Connor and Mr Slevin said her decision was extremely disappoint­ing.

They added: “The invite to conference was sent months ago, yet just six days prior to the conference the Minister has informed us that she will not attend. “While we can accept that the Minister has a busy schedule, the reasoning for her nonappeara­nce was not a prior, more pressing engagement but instead, a show of solidarity and support for the Garda Commission­er. “Commission­er Harris had not received an invitation as he had lost the support of the GRA membership.”


They added they still believed in a separation of powers between the houses of Oireachtas and Garda senior management — which they said was a key element in any democracy to ensure the independen­ce and legitimacy of policing.

They said: “This has the potential to blur the lines of separation in the eyes of our members and indeed the public we serve. “Over the past 12 months, Minister McEntee has publicly stated her belief that the only way to resolve issues was to get parties engaged around a table, yet she has now turned down that opportunit­y.”

 ?? ?? RESPONSE: Slevin and O’Connor of the GRA
RESPONSE: Slevin and O’Connor of the GRA
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