Gardai to get funding for policing visits
Gardai are to be given special funding to cover the financial cost of the massive security operations for the visits next month of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan revealed yesterday he had written to the Department of Justice indicating the annual garda budget could not sustain the cost.
He said he was satisfied that he would receive a favourable response from the department.
Mr Callinan was responding to an earlier call from the Garda Representative Association for extra funds to pay the bills of the two operations. He was in Westport to address the association's annual conference and made it clear he had flagged the financial difficulties that would arise without special funding.
He said it would be unreasonable to expect the annual budget could pay for operations of such magnitude.
Mr Callinan confirmed that thousands of gardai would be deployed in each security operation. Up to recently they had been planning at a strategic level, but with the schedules for the two visits now known, they had started working out the exact details of the policing arrangements.
However, it was too early, he added, to attempt to put a figure on the cost of either operation.
Last night, the private security industry also offered its help with policing.
President of the Irish Security Industry Association John Lawlor said his members could help out and reduce the strain on garda budgets. He said this would provide a financial boost to the private security sector.
Mr Callinan said his force was planning to combat any threat that might emerge from either international terrorism or dissident republicans and was working with the PSNI in Northern Ireland and other security agencies to ensure both VIPs could complete their visits without any trouble.
Earlier, rank-and-file gardai warned that their annual budget would be exhausted if the costs had to be financed from it, leaving the force penniless for the remaining seven months of the year.
General secretary of the Garda Representative Association PJ Stone recalled that special funding had been made available by the then Government for the visit of former US president George Bush and he said he could see no reason why a similar financial step could not be taken on this occasion.