10. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to allow Garda associations access to the industrial relations mechanisms of the State; and if new restrictions on members of An Garda Síochána going on strike or taking other forms of industrial action are to be brought forward. [7629/17]
Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Just a few days ago, in fact, I had a meeting with one of the Garda representative associations to discuss this important issue. The Government has made it clear that it is committed to introducing legislative change to give Garda associations the right of access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. We are certainly not resiling from that commitment, as I assured the Garda representatives when I met them.
In December last, I went to Government and got approval for drafting the heads of a Bill to achieve this objective. Many different issues fall to be considered in this context. These include the status of the Garda associations established under the Garda Síochána Acts and the related question of constraints on members taking industrial action.
To assist in the consideration of these, we have a new working group, which is chaired by Mr. John Murphy, the recently retired Secretary General of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. They will have responsibility for the legislation. My Department, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Garda management and the Workplace Relations Commission are represented on the group. I have asked that group to meet at an early stage with the Garda associations, so that their submissions and views on this matter can be fully taken into account in the work that is going on. I want to have an effective structure to support harmonious industrial relations within An Garda Síochána and which are appropriate to the force.
There are many key issues and if the Deputy would like to make a submission to that group I would welcome it. They are complex issues, including the critical one of how An Garda Síochána interacts with our society and what kind of limits there may or may not be concerning them in future.