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Garda costs for Covid-19 expected to be at least €17.5m

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(Stock image) Photo: PA Wire

(Stock image) Photo: PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

(Stock image) Photo: PA Wire

Garda Siochana are expected to have costs of at least €17.5m directly related to the coronavirus crisis, the Dáil has been told.

Minister Helen McEntee gave details of the expected spend on personal protective equipment (PPE) and other areas as she outlined revised funding estimates for the Department of Justice and its agencies.

She said that Garda Siochana had been confronted with the challenge of Covid-19 and had to put in place measures "to maintain the front-line and visible nature of the actions it has taken to counteract the impact of the pandemic throughout the State."

This included revised rosters to avoid cross over of members as much as possible to minimise the risk of infection.

And 319 trainee gardaí were attested ahead of schedule in March to provide more front-line resources.

She said Garda Siochana has had to buy "significant quantities" of PPE with the estimated cost believed to be in the region of €13m.

An extra €3m was invested in the Garda vehicle fleet as a direct result of the Covid-19 response, on top of the €9m already budgeted.

And Gardaí hired 210 additional vehicles for community policing at an estimated cost of €1.5m over six months.

She said that there's expected to be some re-profiling of expenditure within the Garda allocation with an expected underspend in building works used to offset additional fleet costs.

The cost of Covid-19 to the Prison Service will be in the region of €4m to €5m but the final figure will depend on the length of the emergency and the impact on prisons.

The costs mainly relate to PPE equipment, additional video link facilities for remote court attendance and additional payroll costs to cover for officers in isolation.

Ms McEntee noted that to date no prisoner has been infected with Covid-19 and the Irish Prison Service has been "internationally recognised for its work in controlling the spread of the virus".

She said that significant additional costs are expected in the direct provision system for asylum seekers and this will need to be addressed in the autumn.

Covid-19 related costs included the need to secure additional hotel spaces, self-isolation facilities, and the purchase of PPE and sanitiser to help reduce the risk of an outbreak in centres.

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