575 gardaí on sick leave amid overtime pressure
A total of 575 gardaí are currently on sick leave, an Oireachtas committee has heard.
News of the number, some 4pc of the 13,000 strong force, comes amid growing pressure on an already stretched overtime budget for the organisation.
Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that the force's overtime budget for 2017 was "under significant strain" and Garda management had to seek extra funding.
Mr Twomey told the committee it had been necessary to reduce non-essential overtime for six days at the end of last month, but stressed that operations to tackle gangland crime and burglaries continued during that period, as did road safety initiatives.
He said the same level of budget will not be available to gardaí in 2018. Senior managers must ensure they stay within the funds allocated to them, particularly in light of the growing numbers of An Garda Síochána members.
Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said covering sick leave was one reason overtime was needed.
She asked senior Garda officials if they were aware of a problem with the recording of sick leave, particularly in relation to work-related stress, and asked for figures.
The force's chief administrative officer, Joseph Nugent, said no issues had been brought to his attention in relation to the recording of sick leave, but said he would check with the human resources department.
He confirmed that 575 gardaí were now on sick leave. He said the most recent figure he had for those on 'light duties' or restricted hours was 474, as of June 30.
Ms Daly asked how many of those who were absent had been on sick leave for longer than a year. Mr Nugent promised to provide figures.