The Liberal has learned the recent call by the Garda Representative Association (GRA) for the Yes Vote was not representative of all members of the Gardai, or even the GRA itself.
A representative of the Gardai press office told us that “The GRA’s views do not represent all members of An Garda Siochana. We are unaware as to whether they did a ballot. The Garda Siochana are an independent organisation and we will not be making a statement about the same sex marriage referendum. We will not be calling for a Yes or a No vote.”
Asked whether they thought it was a good idea for the GRA to make such a statement, they said we’d need to talk to the GRA.
Which we did…
We spoke with the GRA press office communications spokesperson who told us that the GRA has never called for its members to adopt a specific position in a referendum before. He told us “No we have never done anything like this before, it’s unprecedented”.
He said that many of the GRA’s members are gay and that the organization has always backed equality.
We then asked whether a ballot of all members was carried out before the official call for a Yes vote was made.
He told us:
“Well I’d have to ask PJ Stone but basically we have a higher up structure of people and they called for equality. We’re not telling our members to vote Yes, we’re asking them to”.
Asked whether he thought all members wanted them to do it or thought it was fair that they pay into an organization that is calling for a Yes vote without first carrying a ballot of members, he told us:
“I can’t say that all our members won’t vote No, but we’ve called on them to vote Yes”.
We then asked whether the GRA now intends to get involved in future political events, such as calling for Fine Gael to be elected etc. The spokesperson told us that the organization has “nothing to do with politics, it’s about equality”.
He then went on to say that the GRA represents 10,400 of the 12,000 Gardai in the country and he confirmed that it is the leaders of the organization who have called for a Yes vote without a ballot of all members.