Speed camera upkeep costs taxpayers €45,000 a day
Gardai are spending €45,000 a day -- or €1.35m a month -- just to maintain the country's network of speed cameras, staggering new figures obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal.
As a result, this year the taxpayer will foot a €16.2m bill to maintain the network of cameras across the country.
With €2.2bn in spending cuts needed in next month's Budget, opposition TDs have said the cost is "extraordinarily high" and the Government must seek to reduce the cost to the taxpayer.
In November 2009, gardai put the provision of such cameras out to private tender to tackle the endemic problem of excessive speeding which has been a major factor in road fatalities in Ireland.
It was the first time that a key element of day-to-day policing had been outsourced from the gardai.
Defending the spend this weekend, embattled Justice Minister Alan Shatter said: "The objective of the safety camera network is to reduce the number of speed-related collisions and so save lives and prevent serious injury, not to generate revenue."
According to information released by garda authorities, €2.1m was incurred in "ICT set-up costs" relating to the introduction of the network.
"The figures provided by An Garda Siochana relate to the monthly cost, which is approximately €1.35m," Mr Shatter added.
He said the operating costs of providing the service are offset somewhat by fixed charges and court fines paid by speeding drivers, but these represent only a small proportion of the overall cost.
Fianna Fail justice spokesman Dara Calleary said yesterday that while the cameras certainly are working in preventing road deaths, the costs are extremely high.
"At a time when we need to make cuts of €3.8bn, costs like these are extraordinary. Surely the Government must look at seeking to renegotiate the charges being incurred.
"We must look at how these costs compare internationally. I am to seek a full review of these numbers," he told the Sunday Independent.
Donegal has the highest number of speed camera locations, according to An Garda Siochana and the Road Safety Authority.
Cameras housed in marked vans monitor areas identified as speed-related blackspots. Some 45 mobile cameras will eventually provide more than 6,000 hours of speed checks per month across the State.
Donegal has 63 camera sites in 52 designated zones; Cork has 62 sites in 48 zones; Meath has 52 sites in 30 zones and Dublin has 19 sites in 37 zones. In total, there are 750 camera sites and 518 zones.
Speed cameras operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Analysis of the sites is ongoing and the locations may change over time.
Mr Shatter's predecessor as Justice Minister, Dermot Ahern, signed a five-year €65m contract with the GoSafe consortium to provide the service last November.
In 2001 in Ireland a total of 411 people died on the roads. Increased enforcement of speed regulations helped reduce this to 212 last year. But the RSA and gardai are intent on reducing this still further.