Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said that if gardaí go on strike, people will never look at the force the same way again.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors yesterday announced what it called a "sustained campaign of industrial action", including joining 10,500 rank and file gardaí on strike for four days in November.

On 4, 11, 18 and 25 November, between 7am-7pm, individual members will withdraw labour to coincide with the Garda Representative Association industrial relations action.

Speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting this morning, Mr Varadkar said the Cabinet hoped the strike could be avoided so it was less about contingency planning and more about resolving the dispute. 

Mr Varadkar also said the Government's offer for gardaí to go to the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission was a major departure. 

Reacting to Mr Varadkar’s comments, the President of the AGSI said Mr Varadkar would be better served trying to help resolve the dispute than pitching the public against gardaí.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Antoinette Cunningham said there had been a significant breach of the agreement the association signed up to under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

She said the Government needed to get all the stakeholders on board, and laid the blame for proposed withdrawal of garda services "firmly at the Government’s door".

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Separately, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said gardaí should seriously consider their decision to take strike action.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Martin said he would not go as far as Mr Varadkar in saying that people would never look at the force in the same way again.

He said Fianna Fáil is in support of the Lansdowne Road Agreement as a framework in order to deal with pay disputes. 

He criticised the Government for the pace at which the Public Service Pay Commission was being set up. He said this could potentially be the avenue through which the pay claims can be sorted.

Budget covers water charges suspension until March 

Mr Varadkar has said the current suspension of charges would run until March and that was provided for in the Budget.  

He was responding to a media report that Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney would ask the Cabinet for €200m to cover water charges,

Mr Varadkar said a decision would then have to be made on whether to continue or end the suspension, but that could not be decided upon until the independent commission reported back.