Friday 18 October 2019

Garda overtime spending to be halted from midnight except for emergencies

Drew Harris: Commissioner has proposed major Garda changes. Picture: Collins
Drew Harris: Commissioner has proposed major Garda changes. Picture: Collins
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Garda overtime spending has been halted from midnight – except for urgent operations.

A directive has been issued by Commissioner Drew Harris to all chief superintendents to curtail their spending for the rest of the year.

It will affect every division across the country, including the six in Dublin.

But divisional officers have been told that resources will be made available in exceptional circumstances for ongoing operations.

These will include the ongoing investigation into the abduction and torture of businessman, Kevin Lunney, who was held hostage for two hours and subjected to an ordeal of horror by former Provisional IRA terrorists, still heavily involved in criminal activities.

The clampdown has been ordered as a result of a shortfall in the Garda budget with some of the divisions having exhausted their annual overtime allocation earlier in the year because of operational demands.

The visits of US president, Donald Trump, and vice president Mike Pence also added to the pressures on national budgets.

It is estimated that the overall cost of providing security and policing for the Trump visit will be between €10m and €12m while the Pence visit will account for a further €3m to €5m.

Traditionally, the government has made available a supplementary budget at this time of the year to offset the overrun in overtime spending.

However, Independent.ie revealed earlier this week that Commissioner Harris had been told that all expenditure in 2019 must be managed within the allocation provided within the government estimates, published almost a year ago.

The commissioner has now moved swiftly to curb the spending and rural chiefs have been joined by their urban counterparts in the capital to express concerns at the likely impact on the policing service provided to communities because of the severity of the cuts.

According to Mr Harris, the overall financial position of the Garda at the end of July showed a total net expenditure of €946.8m, which was €4.8m more than expected.

And if savings in some areas were excluded, the gross year to date overspend amounted to €29m.

The expenditure on overtime up to the end of July was €62.5m, which was €10.25m more than the profiled budget.

Garda management are already deferring spending on some capital projects to attempt to reduce the shortfall and avoid a massive impact on operational and frontline budgets.

Senior gardai point out that almost 50pc of their annual overtime budget is spend without a single operation being launched on the streets.

About a quarter of the budget is set aside to pay for the 15 minutes “parading time”, which allows gardai to be briefed before they begin their daily duties while a further 20pc to 25pc is allocated for duties performed by gardai, outside of their normal hours, in the courts.

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