JUST nine out of more than 70 complaints of bullying and harassment made to An Garda Síochána in the past five years have been upheld.
Paul Wallace of the national executive of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors told delegates at their annual conference in Killarney yesterday that 76 claims of bullying and harassment were made within the force in the past five years.
He was responding to a motion put forward by the members of the Cork North branch of the AGSI, seeking the national executive to call on the Garda commissioner to have the current An Garda Síochána bullying and harassment policy document reviewed and updated for the safety and protection of members.
He said: “So far this year seven males and one female have alleged being victims of bullying. On a four-year look back 40 complaints were by males and 32 by females. The current bullying and harassment policy document was produced in 2007, there has been no meaningful review or update since a period of 14 years. The workplace environment and daily practices have changed significantly in the intervening years.”
The document outlines the policy and procedures of An Garda Síochána for dealing with issues of harassment, sexual harassment and bullying within the organisation.
He stated that the current policy does not contain clear and concise standard operating practices, “with no specific probing or establishing the facts or proofs”.
He claimed that the complaint in a majority of cases can “amount to no more than a compilation of statements, notes and reports with versions often submitted by the aggressor to suit the narrative”.
He said that in the current policy, there is no acceptance that a bullying victim can also be suffering from work-related stress.
He added that civilian staff working within An Garda Síochána have a separate policy under the general civil service policy on dignity in the workplace from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
He continued: “We are aware that there is a working group examining the possibility of gardaí and garda staff under one policy. This is important when both groups work together on a daily basis. The ability to access the WRC in areas of dispute via a clearly defined and agreed roadmap must also be included in any amended proposals.”
He said this needs to be progressed without delay in the interests of the health and wellbeing of gardaí.
150 delegates from across the country attended the conference in Killarney, the first in-person AGSI annual conference since the beginning of the pandemic.
The conference concluded yesterday afternoon. Delegates debated 19 motions across the three days of the event.