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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Garda body calls on minister to release extra funding to reverse overtime ban

  • GRA: 'Overtime is there to fill the gaps, we need it to provide a full service'
  • Overtime for regular policing operations cut due to 'exhausted' garda budget
  • Minister urged to release supplementary budget
  • Cuts comes ahead of busy festive period
Gardai have an overtime ban. Stock photo
Gardai have an overtime ban. Stock photo Newsdesk Newsdesk

A body representing rank and file gardaí has called on the Government to issue a supplementary budget to allow full overtime capacity to be reinstated in Dublin ahead of the busy Christmas season.

The Garda Representatives Association (GRA) has said it first learned about a ban on overtime in the capital when members were being told to go home last night.

An email from Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Metropolitan Region, Pat Leahy, to all chief superintendents alerted gardaí  to an immediate cessation of overtime for regular policing operations in the Dublin region due to an "exhausted" garda budget.  

Ciaran O'Neill of the GRA told RTÉ'S Morning Ireland overtime is necessary to "fill the gaps" in policing because the numbers in the force are not sufficient.

"All areas around the country have had their overtime budgets reduced," he said.

"But Dublin has had a complete ban placed on it and that's a cause for concern.

An excerpt from the notice issued to chief superintendent
An excerpt from the notice issued to chief superintendent

"Overtime is only being used to supplement the numbers because we have an insufficient number of gardaí servicing this state.

"Overtime is the cheapest form of policing," he added.

"We're coming into the Christmas period which is normally a busy period," he said, adding that theft and burglaries increase during the festive period.

Mr O'Neill called for additional funding to be released.

"This is a Government issue in respect of the fact that a budget needs to be provided, whether it's a supplementary budget , or additional money, to provide a proper service and a full service for An Garda Síochána," he said.

He said he  hopes Minister Charlie Flanagan's focus will now be on the garda budget.

In a shock development, one garda division in the capital is considering decommissioning its burglary response units and ordering the unit’s members to work from stations.

Sources say the overtime ban will have a “major impact” on frontline policing in the next five weeks.

GRA president Ciaran O'Neill Photo: Arthur Carron
GRA president Ciaran O'Neill Photo: Arthur Carron

"We want to provide the best service we can to the public and to do that unfortunately it's going to incur some overtime," Mr O'Neill said.

Planned raids and other operations will have to be postponed due to the current situation Mr O'Neill said. Armed supports will also be affected by the cuts.

The only exception to the overtime ban is for gardaí involved in Operation Hybrid and Operation C-Port.

Operation Hybrid is an initiative designed to provide an armed response to organised crime in the capital including armed checkpoints while C-Port is in place to beef up security at Dublin Port and to tackle drugs and other illicit substances being smuggled here.

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