Garda union claims ‘significant’ court victory over Commissioner on trainee pay
8th August 2021
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has scored a court victory against Commissioner Drew Harris which is expected to improve pay and conditions for probationary officers.
Earlier this year, the country’s biggest Garda union went to the High Court to challenge Mr Drew’s decision to indefinitely extend trainee officers’ probationary period.
The union argued the extension resulted in a loss of income and opportunities for promotion.
The GRA took up the court challenge on behalf of four probationary gardaí.
Last week, the case was resolved with the Garda Commissioner giving commitments and concessions, including that pay will be backdated to when each officer is expected to finish their probation.
Union sources described the court action as a “significant victory” for all probationary gardaí.
“This was a very unpopular move by the Commissioner, and one the GRA decided to fight in court,” a union statement said.
“It is a significant victory, as the move by the Commissioner to extend indefinitely the probationary period for trainee officers was having a big financial impact on these officers, as well on as their career progression.”
The GRA sent a circular, seen by the Sunday Independent, to all members last week updating them on the outcome of the High Court challenge.
It praised the four probationary gardaí for coming forward and added that the decision would have a positive impact on hundreds of trainee officers.
The statement also said the outcome would now ensure “fairness and justice” for all Garda recruits.
In May, the GRA sought leave from the High Court to challenge and injunct what it said was the decision to extend the probationary period for four named GRA members.
It said the decision affected 400 probationers and would affect further intakes of gardaí due to complete their probation.
The union claimed it meant they would not receive a pay increase when they expected it, would affect their right to join specialist units and therefore their position when seeking promotion later in their careers.
It also meant they had significantly less job security than a full officer.
The GRA claimed Mr Drew decided to extend “en masse” the probationa ry periods of two “intakes” of recruits who entered Templemore College for two years of training in 2018.
The union claimed a probationary period can only be extended where an individual has not demonstrated to the satisfaction of the C ommissioner an ability to perform the functions of a garda.
The GRA said the Commissioner, in correspondence with the GRA, has denied a decision was taken to extend the probationary period en masse and that each extension followed an individual examination of their situation.
The Commissioner said each probationer had still to complete their Bachelor of Arts in Applied Policing, and their pay and seniority would be backdated to when they were supposed to complete their probation.
He also said taking legal action was premature, given there were discussions ongoing, and suggested it could be dealt with through the national agreement process.