Dan Dooner got the view of a young Garda…
Last Friday’s industrial action by Gardai may have been averted, but the issues at the centre of the dispute remain. New recruits are the ones feeling the biggest pinch.
In recent days I spoke to a serving member of the force who wished to remain anonymous. The member gave me an insight into what life as a young Garda was like, and the challenges a new recruit must face.
“I got a call at 7 pm on Thursday night and I was told to report for duty at 7 am on the Friday morning. I got into the car and started the two-hour drive to where I’m stationed, only to be told I wasn’t needed at about 11.30 pm. Because I’m on probation, I had no real option but to report for duty. My future career may have been in jeopardy had I not.”
The Garda had not been expecting to report for duty until Monday morning but those plans changed with the threat of industrial action.
The Garda then told me that if it weren’t for the love of the job it would be hard to remain in their current financial position.
“I receive €304 a week after all the deductions and I can’t really see myself lasting until 2018 when the increment comes into effect to be honest. Unless you’re doing a lot of overtime it’s not worth it, to be honest.”
The Garda was clearly passionate about the job and enjoyed the “not knowing what each call would be” element. However, the new recruit was only made aware of the possible financial difficulties while training in Templemore.
“I know that when I started, and when a lot of people started, we didn’t know the wages would be so bad. We were in a lecture in Templemore when an instructor said: ‘as you know, the rent allowance is gone’. We were shocked because that was the first we’d heard of it.
“The pay isn’t what I expected but I do this job because it’s what I’ve always wanted. It’s tough and it’s dangerous but it’s the career I want.”
It was clear from our phone call that this Garda was not only committed to the work, but enjoyed the day-to-day challenges, in spite of the danger.
The Garda told me about various hair-raising incidents including members coming under attack while on patrol and violent domestic disputes which were turned on Gardaí. It’s a stressful job, and according to other new members I have spoken to this week, the low starting salary and the struggle to make ends meet compounds this stress.