The Minister for Justice met the Garda Commissioner, Pat Byrne, this evening to discuss the dispute over the force's refusal to operate the new Pulse computer system. The Minister has again said that the Government cannot and will not exceed public pay parameters to resolve the dispute. Earlier, talks between officials of the Department of Justice and the Garda Representative Association broke up without agreement. The General Secretary of the GRA, PJ Stone, has described the outcome as extremely disappointing.
This morning, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the government is doing everything it can to resolve the difficulties over the introduction of the new Garda computer system, PULSE. Mr Ahern said that an enormous amount of tax-payers' money had gone into the system, which, he said, was an excellent one. However, he said that although there had been agreement with the Garda representatives on its introduction, this had been rejected by the rank and file on a ballot.
Answering opposition questions in the Dáil this morning, he said that Justice Minister John O' Donoghue is doing everything possible to implement the new system. The matter had been raised by Fine Gael's deputy leader, Nora Owen, who said that the Taoiseach should give a firm commitment to the House and the people that policing would not be interrupted by the difficulties over Pulse.
The Government is insisting that it cannot break public sector pay guidelines, but it is understood the introduction of a 39-hour working week could be the key to a settlement. Rank and file Gardaí insist that the current row is about other issues such as civilianisation and rosters, not just the introduction of PULSE.