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Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar warns gardai on strike perils

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Minister Varadkar
Minister Varadkar

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has warned gardaí that their relationship with the public will change forever if they go on strike.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane Show, the minister said that although gardaí should be able to engage with the bodies of the state on issues such as pay, that “whatever they may get for a day on strike, I think they will fundamentally change their relationship” with the public who will see it as a carte blanche to break the law.

“If as uniformed officers, as gardaí sworn to uphold the law, whatever increase they get, whether it’s a thousand euros or a 5% increase, it will change their relationship with the public forever,” he said. “And I really hope they don’t cross that Rubicon because it’s not in their interest to do so.

“I can understand the grievances that a lot of public servants have, having had their pay cuts in the past number of years, and pay restorations happening and I know it could be happening sooner.”

Speaking on the issue of reform within the gardaí, Varadkar said that it’s been”a thorny issue for the government and it certainly hasn’t gone away”, but also pledged his support to Garda Commissioner O’Sullivan:

“I think Nóirín O’Sullivan has a very difficult job, I think so far she’s done a good job. But changing a culture is an enormous challenge,” he added.