Gardai splurged €96m over three years
Gardai, including senior inspectors and superintendents, have enjoyed a €96m splurge on travel expenses, subsistence allowances and mileage over the past three years, figures obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal.
So far this year, officers have received €16.6m in various allowances and the large spend also includes monthly lump sum payments to inspectors and other senior officers for the use of their cars for official business.
However, with further cuts in funding likely in next month's Budget, all foreign travel for members has been cancelled since August in a bid to reduce costs.
"Those who would have previously gone to conferences abroad are no longer going -- we need to cut costs," a garda spokesman said.
The level of spending on expenses and allowances has fallen substantially since 2008 when it amounted to €37m. In 2009 it fell to €22.7m and last year the total claimed by officers was €19.1m.
Subsistence claims, primarily relating to officers having to travel and remain away from their station because of court cases, made up the largest proportion of the €96.1m splurge.
A garda spokesman said that since 2008, major efforts had been made to reduce costs. Allowance rates had been reduced and cooperation from the courts had been sought to reduce the need for witnesses to appear in court to give evidence.
"We had lads coming to Dublin from the country simply to say in court they had minded a crime scene for eight hours. It is unnecessary and highly expensive," the spokesman told the Sunday Independent.
The figures were obtained by Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Dara Calleary.
Elsewhere, garda representatives of 12,000 rank-and-file gardai described as a "recipe for disaster" the revelation that 500 officers will seek to retire early from the force before the end of the year -- double the average annual rate of garda retirements.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said Justice Minister Alan Shatter must end the recruitment embargo on gardai if a serious policing shortfall is to be averted.
GRA president Damien McCarthy said garda numbers had fallen from a 14,500 peak and that losing so many more in one year would have a detrimental impact.
"Nobody has properly analysed or stress-tested the impact of this on the frontline policing that our members provide to the public," he said.
Before the Government's drive to reduce public sector numbers was announced, retirements from An Garda Siochana had slowed to a three-year low.