New garda recruits will lose out on €4,000 a year allowance
Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30
Garda recruits will lose out on an annual allowance of €4,000 when they join the force next month.
It will also take them two years longer to reach the top of the pay scale for garda rank.
The changes have been made as part of an overhaul to garda pay structures under the Haddington Road agreement.
An initial batch of 100 recruits - the first to be taken into the Garda training college since the government ban on hiring new employees five years ago - will begin a week-long induction course on Monday.
It is expected they will then launch into the initial 34-week phase of training at the college when they will be paid a weekly wage of €184 on top of their accommodation and food.
Sanction for further intakes to the college must be given by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
A decision has also been put on hold by the Department of Justice until it has received a report from the Garda Inspectorate, which is reviewing existing garda structures. It is likely to issue its recommendations by the end of next month.
In the meantime, it is estimated that the number of additional recruits to be approved will be less than 300 over the next nine months to account for retirements and resignations and to ensure that the strength of the force does not fall much further.
Overall strength has dropped, from 14,500 five years ago to the existing 12,900, which is below the "red line" figure of 13,000, set by ex-garda commissioner Martin Callinan.
A series of special allowances have traditionally been paid to gardai and other public sector groups by successive governments after being put on the negotiating table in lieu of rises in basic pay rates. These include annual rent allowance of €4,017, which is pensionable.
The most recent official study of the allowances, carried out when the Garda strength was over 14,000 showed that the rent payments were costing the State over €56m.
The allowance is used by gardai to help defray the costs of being posted or transferred to stations outside their home county.
This is now being scrapped for new entrants to the force.
Staff representative groups say they are disturbed by the fall-out from this move as it means that the new members will be working alongside colleagues, who receive more in their take-home pay packets.
More than 24,000 applied for a job as a garda, of which 18,500 completed the first-stage tests. This was reduced to 12,600, who reached a satisfactory standard, and they were divided into three bands, depending on their score.
So far, only the top band of 5,000 have been invited to undertake further tests. This was further cut back to 3,100 and only the top 600 from that pool have fully progressed through the later stages of the tests, set independently by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).
Probationer gardai are paid €23,171 a year and the rate will then rise by annual increments to a maximum of €45,793 after 19 years, compared to 17 years for existing gardai.
PAS figures show that 1,097 of the applicants claimed they were members of the Garda Reserve, of those 925 completed the initial stage and 329 made the top band with a further 369 in the other two bands.
In the online tests, 328 reservists sat the examination and 236 passed. After a number were interviewed, 39 names were sent to Garda HQ.