Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Garda Pay Negotiations.

12.

asked the Minister for Justice is he is aware of current unrest in the Garda Force and its serious implications for the country; the action he proposes to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

13.

asked the Minister for Justice whether he intends to hold any discussions with the Garda Representative Association following the rejection of the latest pay offer.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.

The position is that the agreement which was negotiated at the Garda Conciliation Council and at arbitration by the representatives of the Garda Representative Association has been rejected by the association by a ballot of their members. The matter is now under discussion at the council.

It would not be possible for me, within the confines of a reply to Parliamentary Questions, to make a detailed statement on the background to the situation. I have, however, dealt with it in the course of an address which I gave to the delegates of the association at their conference in Blarney on 1 April last. I have placed copies of the address on the table of the House and additional copies will be available for any Deputies who wish to have them. I will, of course, also supply copies to the two Deputies who asked these questions.

Does the Minister accept that the unrest in the Garda force is not solely related to pay and that the morale of the Force is not as high as it should be? Has the Minister examined his conscience in this regard?

The Deputy would do well to have a little commonsense and he should not attempt to make political playthings out of the Garda and their claims.

The Minister never did that, I suppose.

Arising out of the Minister's non-reply, would he not accept that the question was asked in good faith and that I may be pinpointing a problem in the Force about which he should know? I am obviously more concerned for the morale of the Force than is the Minister. Will he genuinely examine the causes of the unrest in the Force today and not treat the matter in this defensive and diffident fashion?

The Deputy should read the address I made to the delegates at their annual conference in Blarney on 1 April.

April fool's day.

If he does so I think the sort of supplementary questions which he persists in asking would embarrass even him.

The Minister refuses to answer this question. I have read this speech and it does not address itself to these problems. I suggest in the interests of the country and of morale within the Garda that the Minister should address himself to these problems.

I have far more appreciation of Garda problems than the Deputy. I and my party have far more concern for the morale of the Garda than the Government who were in office about four years ago. The Opposition ask questions and make charges and allegations——

The Minister does not answer the questions.

I have far more faith in those within the Garda who are advising me than in those outside the Force who are advising the Deputy on internal Garda matters. There will not be any of them at the ard-fheis either.

Question No. 14.