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Thursday 23 May 2019

Garda paid €76,450 in allowances amid €290m bill for force

  

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Anne-Marie Walsh

A member of An Garda Síochána was paid €76,450 in allowances last year.

New figures reveal the individual earned more than a rank-and-file garda's yearly pay in extra payments on top of wages during 2018.

Another member of the force earned €64,017 in overtime.

The top 10 allowance payments during the year ranged from €38,024 to €76,450, according to data obtained in a Freedom of Information request.

The highest 10 overtime payments started at €56,829, rising to €64,017.

When asked for a breakdown of the biggest allowance payment, a Garda spokesperson said it was made up of "standard allowances". These included detective allowances, public holiday allowances and allowances "attributable to an overseas posting".

The individual who earned the highest overtime payment of €64,017 did more than 1,341 hours at a rate of €47.71 an hour.

In total, last year's Garda overtime bill amounted to €118m, while allowances cost €172m, a total of €290m.

This works out as €9,013 in overtime and €13,137 in allowances per garda - or more than €22,000 in total each.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris cut the overtime bill last year after declaring that discretionary spending was too high.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said it had cut funding for Garda overtime to €95m for 2019.

"The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76bn."

He said overtime could not be taken in isolation from other resources, and plans to increase the workforce to 21,000 by 2021 would provide additional policing hours.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on public expenditure and reform Barry Cowen said single payments of more than €60,000 in overtime should be exceptional.

He said filling vacancies with permanent full-time staff would alleviate the overtime bill, as well as careful rostering arrangements.

General secretary of the Garda Representative Association Pat Ennis said its members "have no discretion" when directed to work overtime. "Gardaí are required on a daily basis to respond to unforeseen situations, sometimes at short notice. Most overtime is unavoidable," he said.

Irish Independent

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