ONE member of the gardai last year received more than €41,000 in overtime payments, new figures show.
According to figures released by the Department of Justice in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Department confirmed that one member received overtime payments of €41,640.
The Garda overtime bill last year was €41.5m and this compared with an overtime pay out of €79.68m in 2011 – a decline of 48pc in 12 months.
A major contributor to the sharp drop was the overtime bill for major events like the visit of US President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, which did not re-occur in 2012.
The figures show that four members received overtime payments of between €35,000 and €40,000 last year.
The highest amount paid out in overtime last year was €41,460, compared with the top payout of €49,371 in 2011.
The Department's FOI unit refused to disclose the job title and location of each of the top recipients "as this is personal information and its provision could lead to the identification of the individuals concerned".
The top overtime sums will add significantly to a member's take home pay – garda salaries range from €26,000 to €47,083; with sergeants' salaries going from €47,541 to €54,741; and inspectors' salaries ranging from €55,038 to €61,074.
However, a spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said yesterday that overtime "is very disruptive to family life. The public see overtime payments as a windfall or a bonus."
"They are not, they are hard earned by gardai working very long hours. These are gross figures, not net figures, and the person who received the highest amount could be covering for two colleagues who have recently retired and who is taking up all of the slack. How long can someone deal with that stress?"
He added: "What you have is a force that does not have enough gardai and a Garda Commissioner who does not have the funds to pay overtime to cover the gaps in the service.
"Most gardai are not interested in doing overtime and resent doing it. It is a major headache. A garda who finishes work at 7am does not want to do overtime and go to court later the same morning. He or she wants to go to bed to get some sleep."
The spokesman also hit out at the Government over the lack of new recruits. He said: "Currently, Ireland is the only country in Europe not training new garda recruits, even the Greeks are recruiting police."
The spokesman said that the red line of the force going under 13,000 is fast approaching.