Thursday 22 August 2019

Croke Park and Aviva paid €2.7m to gardai for private policing

Nice little earner: Lady Gaga’s concert in the Aviva would have secured a hefty policing bill from An Garda Siochana
Nice little earner: Lady Gaga’s concert in the Aviva would have secured a hefty policing bill from An Garda Siochana
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Policing private events has become a nice little earner for An Garda Siochana as new figures show it took €1.8m in the first six months of this year for policing private events, ranging from cup finals to stadium concerts to community events.

The figures show that gardai provided private security at 723 concerts in 2014 - generating €4.4m -which averages out at just over €6,000 for each event.

The latest figures bring to €13.1m the income the force has raked in for its services since 2012.

Croke Park is the biggest customer of garda security. The stadium paid the force €1.59m for providing security at concerts and sports fixtures in the three years from 2012.

The stadium drew massive crowds with box-office acts such as One Direction, which played three nights, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Gardai lost out on fees from the cancelled Garth Brooks concerts, which would have had entailed a massive policing operation.

The Aviva Stadium, south of the River Liffey, paid fees of €1.18m for An Garda Siochana's services over the same period. Some of its star acts in recent years, such as Michael Buble, Madonna and Lady Gaga, would have also attracted a hefty policing bill.

Most of the force's policing income came from sporting events, taking in more than €5m from different sporting bodies since 2012.

Over the same period, concerts generated €3.1m for the gardai. The remaining €5m coming from other large gatherings, such as community and charity events, commercial events and conferences.

Croke Park and Aviva, between them, accounted for close to one quarter of the gardai's private policing income of €13.1m.

The latest details were released by An Garda Siochana, which now falls under the Freedom of Information Act in relation to its finances and procurement.

In the Dail earlier this year, the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, released the breakdown of non-public policing figures for 2012 to 2015. They showed incomes of €4.1 in 2012; €2.8m in 2013; and €4.4m in 2014.

Noirin O'Sullivan, the Garda Commissioner, provided more detailed figures to politicians at an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee meeting in 2014.

Shell paid €158,746 for policing, most of that in Mayo where it has clashed with local protesters over the laying of a gas pipeline. MCD Productions, which promotes music concerts nationwide, paid the gardai €568,500 in 2013. The FAI paid €185,855, while smaller clubs, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians FC, paid €14,800 and €4,000.

In the Dail earlier this year, the Sinn Fein TD, Padraig McLochlainn complained that the cost of private policing was too high for small charities and community groups.

He said that one unidentified charity in his constituency in Donegal was charged €4,000 to provide security at an event. He said it was "not acceptable that local community, voluntary and charity groups are expected to foot the bill for policing services at events and festivals".

Private event organisers and promoters have to effectively hire An Garda Siochana's services to regulate traffic and policing.

Sunday Independent

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