Thursday 21 September 2017

Shatter defends €51m funding request needed to pay gardai this year

Justice Minister Alan Shatter defends €51m request
Justice Minister Alan Shatter defends €51m request

Fiona Ellis and Tom Brady

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has defended the shortfall in the garda budget, which has resulted in an additional injection of €51m in funding being sought to ensure officers are paid their wages up to the end of the year.

The minister said that seeking permission for a supplementary budget from the Dail was not an unusual occurrence, nor unique to him.

He told the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality that almost 90pc of the overall garda budget was accounted for by payroll and pension costs.

It was, therefore, almost inevitable that a proportion of this would involve either pay or pensions.

"The fact that there are potentially over 1,200 garda members with the required service, who could exercise an option to retire on age grounds, means that garda payroll costs are something of an imprecise science", he added.

Mr Shatter also sought €5m extra to fund initial payments to the women who worked in the Magdalene laundries.

He pointed out that almost €24m had been achieved in savings elsewhere in the Justice budget, and this reduced the extra amount being sought to €32m.

He said he was very pleased that the moratorium on garda recruitment, which has been in place since 2010, would end next year with a new campaign due to begin within weeks.

STRENGTH

And he suggested that the targeted objective strength of the force would be maintained at 13,000 members.

The strength of the force at the end of October was 13,137.

Mr Shatter indicated recently that the first recruits would be taken into the training college in Templemore in the middle of the summer, when they will begin a 62-week course before becoming fully fledged members of the force.

In the meantime, it is anticipated that the force will lose between 300 and 350 members next year through natural wastage, and a similar amount the following year.

It is also estimated that if those on secondment, career breaks and maternity leave were taken away, the current figure is already heading below the baseline, set by Commissioner Martin Callinan, of 13,000.

Irish Independent

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