Garda Representative Association v Ireland

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Murphy
Judgment Date01 January 1994
Neutral Citation1989 WJSC-HC 291
Docket Number[1987 No. 11419P],Record No. 11419P/1987
Date01 January 1994

1989 WJSC-HC 291

THE HIGH COURT

Record No. 11419P/1987
GARDA REPRESENTATIVE ASSOCIATION v. AG

BETWEEN

THE GARDA REPRESENTATIVE ASSOCIATION, THE ASSOCIATION OF GARDA SERGEANTS AND INSPECTORS AND OTHERS
PLAINTIFFS

AND

IRELAND, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, EAMONN DOHERTY AND CATHAL CROWLEY
DEFENDANTS

Citations:

GARDA SIOCHANA ACT 1924 S13

GARDA SIOCHANA ACT 1977 S1

POLICE FORCES AMALGAMATION ACT 1925 S8(1)

POLICE FORCES AMALGAMATION ACT 1925 S12

POLICE FORCES AMALGAMATION ACT 1925 S14

COUNCIL OF CIVIL SERVICE UNIONS V MIN CIVIL SERVICE 1985 AC 374

KEEGAN, STATE V STARDUST COMPENSATION TRIBUNAL 1987 ILRM 202, 1986 IR 642

O'REILLY V MACKMAN 1983 2 AC 237, 1983 3 WLR 1096

GOLDRICK V DUBLIN CORPORATION UNREP MURPHY 10.11.86 1986/6/617

WEBB V IRELAND 1988 ILRM 565, 1988 IR 353

POLICE FORCES AMALGAMATION ACT 1925 S12(2)

Synopsis:

TRlBUNAL

Decision

Review - Garda Siochana -Conditions of service - Conciliation Council - Chairman - Powers - Request by staff side that topic be placed on agenda - Request refused by chairman - On 13/5/87 the Taoiseach wrote to the Minister for Justice drawing his attention to the need to reduce public expenditure - The contents of this letter were conveyed to the Commissioner of the Garda Siochana and he decided that savings could be effected by changing the method of paying gardai so that the initial 15 minutes parade time at the start of the working day, which were included in the working day at overtime rates when the pay of the gardai was being calculated, were included in the standard working day at normal rates of pay - The Commissioner also decided to re-roster special categories of gardai over seven-day periods instead of five-day periods - The general secretary of the Garda Representative Association became aware of the Commissioners intentions and, at the end of a meeting of the Conciliation Council held on 29/1O/87 he requested the chairman of the Council to place the Commissioner's proposed changes on the agenda of the Council so that they could be discussed at a future meeting - The chairman, a permanent civil servant, had been appointed to be chairman of the Council by the Minister for Justice - The general secretary gave reasons for making his request and members on the official side of the Council opposed the placing of those matters on the Council's agenda - Having considered the conflicting arguments, the chairman of the Council ruled that the subjects sought to be placed on the Council's agenda were not suitable for consideration by the Council; he refused to grant the request and stated the reasons for his refusal - The Conciliation Council was created pursuant to the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme, l977 - Paragraph 19 of that scheme provides that the matters appropriate for discussion by the Council for ranks covered by the scheme are:- "(a) Claims relating to pay and allowances and other emoluments whether in cash or kind. (b) Hours of duty efficiency of the force" - Paragraph 32 of the scheme specifies the matters which may be referred to arbitration and includes claims for adjustment of rates of pay and allowances, claims in regard to total weekly hours of work, and claims in regard to overtime - Paragraph 17(l) of the scheme states that the staff side may request that a matter be placed on the agenda of the Council for the next meeting - Paragraph 17(2) provides:- "The question whether items placed on the agenda are appropriate for discussion by the Council will be a matter for the Chairman to decide but, before any such item is excluded as not being appropriate for discussion by the Council, the Council will be given an opportunity to express its views as to whether it should be included or excluded" - The plaintiff association issued a plenary summons in the High Court and challenged the validity of the chairman's decision to refuse to place the said changes on the agenda of the Conciliation Council - One of the grounds advanced by the plaintiffs was that the refusal of their request should be excluded by reason of promissory estoppel arising from the existence of the Conciliation Scheme and from a statement made by the Minister for Justice in Dail Eireann on l3/5/87 in which he agreed that it was standard practice to pay gardai overtime rates for the initial 15 minutes of the working day and that, before any alteration of that practice, "there would have to be consultation with the Garda associations" - Held, in dismissing the plaintiffs claim, that the Conciliation Scheme conferred on the chairman of the Council the power to decide, after members of the Council had expressed their views on the matter, whether items placed on the Council's agenda were or were not appropriate for discussion - Held that the plaintiffs" objection that the chairman's refusal had been premature, since the disputed topics had not been placed on the Council's agenda before the refusal, was not a valid objection in view of the circumstances in which the plaintiffs" request had been made, considered and rejected - Held that the chairman's decision had not been shown to have been an invalid one on the grounds of illegality, irrationality or procedural impropriety: ~Council of Civil Service Unions v. Minister for the Civil Service~ [1985] A.C. 374 and ~Keegan v. Stardust Victims Compensation Tribunal~ [1987] ILRM 202 considered - Held that the provisions of Article 15.13 of the Constitution, declaring that a member of Dail Eireann was not amenable to any court in respect of any utterance in the House, was not a bar to the plaintiffs relying upon the said Minister's statement in support of their case - Held that there was no evidence that the plaintiffs had relied on the Minister's statement and, accordingly, they could not invoke it to support a promissory estoppel - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Article 15 - (1987/11419 P - Murphy J. - 19/4/88) - [1988] ILRM 1 [1989] IR 193

|Garda Representative Association v. Ireland|

GARDA SIOCHANA

Conditions of service

Pay - Reduction - Overtime - Removal - Dispute - Conciliation scheme - Chairman of conciliation council was asked to place those matters on agenda of council - Request refused on ground that those matters were not appropriate for discussion by the council - Validity of chairman's decision upheld - ~See~ Tribunal, decision - (1987/11419 P - Murphy J. - 19/4/88) [1989] ILRM 1 [1989] IR 193

|Garda Representative Association v. Ireland|

1

Judgment of Mr. Justice Murphy delivered the 18th day of April 1988.

2

The first and secondly named Plaintiffs are, as the name would suggest, Associations of different ranks of the Gárda Síochána established pursuant to Section 13 of the Gárda Síochána Act 1924as amended by Section 1 of the Gárda Síochána Act 1977.The other Plaintiffs are members of that force.

3

The fourthly named Defendant, Eamonn Doherty, is the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána who was appointed to that office on the 11th of November 1987. The fifthly named Defendant, Cathal Crowley, is and has been for some two to three years the Chairman of the Conciliation Council established pursuant to a scheme established on the 30th of November 1977 (hereinafter referred to as "the 1977 scheme") and entitled "A Scheme to Provide Conciliation and Arbitration Machinery for Members of the Gárda Síochána of the Ranks of Chief Superintendent, Inspector, Station Sergeant, Sergeant and Guard". It is unnecessary to identify the other parties.

4

In these proceedings the Plaintiffs challenge the validity of the decision taken by Mr. Crowley in his capacity as Chairman of the 1977 Scheme on the 29th day of October 1987. In fact these proceedings were preceded by an application for Judicial Review by way of Certiorari in respect of that decision.

5

Certainly it would be helpful (and the Plaintiffs contend it is essential) to appreciate the context within which Mr. Crowley made the decision of which complaint is made. The relevant background as outlined by the Plaintiffs dealt with four different areas, first, certain provisions governing the operational and management structure of the Gárda Síochána; secondly, the provisions regarding personnel or industrial relationships within the force and in particular the 1977 Scheme; thirdly, recent decisions affecting the emoluments of members of the force and, fourthly, the circumstances within which the Chairman made the disputed decision.

The Structure of the Gárda Síochána
6

Counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs drew attention to the Police Forces Amalgamation Act 1925Section 8(1) which provides that:-

"The general direction and control of the amalgamated force shall, subject to regulations made under or continued in force by this Act, be vested in the Commissioner of the amalgamated force who shall be styled and known as the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána".

7

Attention was then drawn to Sections 12 and 14 of the same Act. Section 12 empowers the Minister for Justice (with the sanction of the Minister for Finance) to regulate and appoint the rates of pay and allowances to be paid to the several ranks of the officers and men of the force. Section 14 confers on the same Minister power (subject to the approval of the Government) to make regulations governing a wide range of matters including admission to the force; promotion; duties of the several ranks; maintenance; the formation of representative bodies and other matters relating to the internal management of the force. Furthermore the 1925 Act expressly provides by subsection (2) of Section 12 thereof that the power conferred on the Minister (by subsection (1) of that section) to regulate and appoint rates of pay should not be exercised until the draft Order has been submitted to the several representative bodies representing the various ranks and grades of the force who would be affected by the Order when made. The several...

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