Garda units 'stripped down' as staffing levels are impacted by Covid-19

On Sunday it was reported that there are 1,100 fewer gardaí available to work than just two weeks ago.
Garda units 'stripped down' as staffing levels are impacted by Covid-19

Vivienne Clarke

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has warned that the force is seeing significant numbers of staff absent from work because of Covid-19 and this was adding to the burden of their work.

On Sunday it was reported that there are 1,100 fewer gardaí available to work than just two weeks ago.

Brendan O'Connor, vice president of the GRA, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the pandemic was having an impact on the force either because people were infected or were close contacts.

“We're back to the old style, fewer people expected to do more, so it's an added burden on our members,” Mr O'Connor said.

“It's just a fact that units are stripped down, so we have less people parading for duty, so there may be the same number of calls coming in and there's just less people to do them.

“So people might be travelling further distances to deal with matters, and we also have colleagues who may be un-rested having to come in to backfill vacancies,” he added.

“Just like any workforce - there's just fewer people trying to deliver services, putting more pressure on those still in place providing that service.”

Due to the high numbers unavailable to work, members of the force are now  being provided with antigen tests for use before starting their tour of duty as part of efforts to protect against the impact of the Omicron variant.

While the tests are provided free of charge, their use is voluntary and it is not a requirement to carry one out.

Resilience

Mr O’Connor said that his members were concerned about comments by garda management on the resilience of the force.

“We have been flagging the need for resilience, we asked for our membership to be prioritised in the original vaccination programme, our calls fell on deaf ears,” Mr O'Connor said.

“In early December, when senior management were planning and could see what was on the horizon, our members had their leave reduced, but there was no mention of supporting us to get priority boosting, or now for PCR tests - there's no priority testing for gardaí,” he explained.

“Our members feel it is quite inappropriate that they would be put at significant risk or at additional risk by reducing the isolation period when they are close contacts, coming into stations, creating the risk of spreading more of this virus and having more absenteeism - that's something we would be very concerned about.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more