Questions on Garda numbers cost €7,000
Twelve Sinn Féin Dáil deputies have tabled some 450 questions to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on the Garda divisional strength throughout the State.
Staff in the Department of Justice worked a total of 30 days to complete the answers to the questions, at a salary cost in excess of €7,000.
Most of the questions are similar and seek a breakdown of the number of gardaí who are assigned to various divisions, as well as the figures for those who are deployed on duties with specialist units.
A typical block of questions sought the number of gardaí attached to a division in each of the years 2009 to 2017 and to date in 2018 by rank, district and sub-district in tabular form, as well as the complement of civilian staff, and the breakdown of those who are deployed in the Special Branch, emergency response unit, armed support unit, public order unit, cyber crime bureau and the national specialist units, which form Garda special crime operations.
Most of the questions have been answered in full.
But the minister said that he had been advised by the Garda Commissioner that for security and operational reasons, the strength of the Special Branch, emergency response unit and regional support units could not be provided.
The cost of answering the questions is based on the deployment of a principal officer, assistant principal, higher executive officer, executive officer and two clerical officers full-time for five working days each in the department's policing section, as well as the additional work by staff in the office of the minister and of the secretary general.
Sinn Féin has already signalled that the new Garda Commissioner, the former PSNI deputy chief constable Drew Harris, who will take over from Acting-Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin next month, could expect to face plenty of cross-examination from the party's TDs.