A decision to extend the probationary period for hundreds of trainee gardaí by six months is unlawful, it has been claimed in the High Court.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is seeking leave from the court to challenge and injunct what it says is the decision to extend the probationary period for four named GRA members. The GRA says the decision affects 400 probationers and will affect further intakes of gardai due to complete their probation shortly.
It also means they will not receive a pay increase when they expected it, affects their right to join specialist units, and therefore their position in seeking promotion later in their careers, it is claimed. It also means they have significantly less job security than a full officer, it is claimed.
The GRA claims the Garda Commissioner decided to extend "en masse" the periods for two “intakes” who entered Templemore College for two years of training in 2018.
The first 200 completed their training in 2020 and would have expected to finish probation in March of this year. The second 200 completed their training and expect to be fully attested on June 7th next.
It is claimed a probationary period can only be extended where that individual has not demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Commissioner an ability to perform the functions of a garda.
The GRA says the Commissioner, in correspondence with the GRA, has denied a decision was taken to extend the probationary period en masse and that each extension was following an individual examination of their situation.
Each probationer had to still 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, the Commissioner also said.
The Commissioner also said taking legal action was premature given that there were discussions ongoing and suggesting it could be dealt with through the national agreement process.
The GRA disputed this and again requested the withdrawal of the extension decision.
It then sought leave from Mr Justice Charles Meenan to bring judicial review proceedings, along with four named probationers, against the Commissioner.
The matter came back before the court on Monday, with the Commissioner represented, when the judge said if the parties were prepared to narrow the issues it may be possible to slot in the application for leave for a maximum of two days in July.
Mark Harty SC, for the GRA applicants, and Douglas Clarke SC, for the Commissioner, said they would try to do so. The matter was adjourned to next month.