Beat goes on in Irish police strike

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The Independent Online
IRELAND'S first national garda strike saw portly middle-aged sergeants and inspectors emerge with pride intact after being tested on the beat against a younger generation of criminal.

But the Government was shaken by the strength of participation in the strike in pursuit of a 39 per cent pay demand. More than 5,000 officers took part, more than 80 per cent of the rank and file membership. The figure was nearer 100 per cent in outlying areas.

Fortunately, there was only a relatively small number of serious incidents during the day.

After one raid by a masked robber on Quigley's Point post office near Buncrana in Donegal yesterday the local superintendent Tom Long told how eight senior officers renewed acquaintance with their sprinting legs. After an hour's successful chase a man was arrested and all the cash was recovered.

Banned by law from striking, the absent officers withdrew their services by ringing in sick en masse with what was termed an outbreak of "blue flu".

Cadets in training and senior ranks who were not members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) behind the protest filled in street patrol duties, while administrative work and traffic policing was largely abandoned for the day.

Court cases were reportedly disrupted by the absence of officers due to give evidence. The Irish Army remained on standby, ready to intervene if serious problems arose.

The GRA executive will meet next week with a subsequent conference to decide on possible further one-day stoppages if no improved offer is forthcoming. Its acting general secretary PJ Stone said: "We won't be unreasonable if people sit down and talk to us." He complained the Government had reneged on its promise of an independent review of Garda pay going back to 1981.

The justice minister John O'Donoghue said he was disappointed about the strike but added that he could provide more money without undermining economic strategy".

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