Garda deputy chief hails Eoin Ó Broin’s ‘clarity’ on eviction tweet – The Irish Times

Eoin Ó Broin, the spokesman for Sinn Féin Housing, has spoken to the head of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) about a mock image he posted showing Gardaí overseeing an eviction.

The image, a work of art by visual artist Mála Spíosraí, also known as Spicebag, is a reworked painting by renowned Cork artist Daniel MacDonald (1821-1853) depicting a displacement during the famine.

The Sinn Féin TD posted it on Twitter with the caption: “No words needed”. The post drew widespread criticism from gardaí and politicians.

On Saturday, Agsi Secretary-General Antoinette Cunningham described Mr Ó Broin’s tweet as “deeply offensive and totally inappropriate” from an elected official.

On Twitter, she commented that it was “insultingly wrong” to portray fellow Garda like that.

On Monday afternoon, as Agsi members prepared for their annual general conference, Mr Ó Broin said he had a “very positive” conversation with Ms Cunningham, in which he stressed “it is not my intention to offend An Garda Síochána, to criticize or draw into a political controversy.

“My intention was simply to highlight the issue of homelessness/evictions and to criticize government policies,” he tweeted.

Ms Cunningham welcomed Mr Ó Broin’s “important” clarity and said she will share it with Agsi members.

The discussion of a seated TD posting the image will likely dominate much of the three-day conference. Justice Secretary Simon Harris is expected to raise the matter in his speech to Agsi delegates on Monday night.

It is understood he intends to “strongly criticize” Sinn Féin over the controversy.

Spicebag, from Bray, Co. Wicklow, told the Irish Times he completed the picture in 2021 after being inspired by a 2018 eviction in Dublin’s north inner city, where masked gardaí were visible watching the eviction.

He reposted the image in recent days, as the government’s moratorium on no-fault evictions expired on Saturday.

Other issues set to be raised at the Agsi conference in Galway include the new roster system for Gardaí, which has led to clashes between Gardaí representatives and Commissioner Drew Harris in recent weeks.

Ms Cunningham has accused Garda management of being adamant on the matter and not adhering to the working relationship process put in place for the Garda dispute resolution.

She said sentiment among Agsi members was very low and was not helped by Drew Harris’ refusal to commit internally to rosters.

Agsi will also seek the formal withdrawal of the gender identity in the workplace policy for a lack of “advice and awareness-raising” on the issue. The policy addresses how people who change gender should be addressed using their preferred pronouns.

Agsi has raised concerns about comments from Drew Harris that gardaí could potentially be disciplined for misgendering a person.

Ms Cunningham said Agsi was “very aware of people’s rights to transition and is supported in this by work colleagues”.

However, in the absence of “an awareness and education program” it is unfair to issue the policy as it stands, and “even more unfair is the threat of disciplinary action that looms over us if we misguide ourselves due to a lack of such training”.

“There are a large number of people in the Garda organization who are unaware of the rights and entitlements of people who wish to make the transition and how they can be supported in practice in the workplace,” she said.

Drew Harris will address delegates on Tuesday. Garda deputy chief hails Eoin Ó Broin’s ‘clarity’ on eviction tweet – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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