Sunday 16 December 2018

Revealed: Pope's 36-hour Irish visit to cost garda €5m

Pope Francis (PA)
Pope Francis (PA)
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The Pope's visit to Ireland next month will take an estimated €5m out of the annual garda budget, according to informed sources in the force.

An Garda Siochana will bear the costs of the extra policing and significant overtime expected to be incurred over the two-day visit at a time of stretched resources.

The €5m figure for policing what is anticipated to be an internationally televised event accounts for a quarter of the overall €20m cost of bringing Pope Francis to the Catholic Church's World Meeting of Families event.

The State will cover the cost of logistics and security, while the Catholic Church will contribute a substantial amount.

The Church has already raised around €5m in donations from church collections and through a fundraising drive.

In addition to the Garda's expected €5m tab, the State is also spending €1.2m for CCTV and public-address system for the event, according to recent reports.

The Office for Public Works put two contracts worth €1.5m out for tender. These are for security and stewarding services in the Phoenix Park and elsewhere, according to online news website, the Journal.ie

Garda resources are already stretched, according to senior sources, with policing and crime operations already affected by restrictions on overtime and certain policing programmes in some areas.

The Papal visit will require intense security not only over the expected 36 hours the pontiff is in Ireland, but also in the days beforehand.

The Pope will arrive in Dublin on Saturday, August 25 and will be welcomed to Ireland by President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtarain.

The Pope will spend his first day attending the World Meeting of Families in Croke Park. The following day, he will fly to Knock to recite the Angelus at the Marian Shrine before an estimated 45,000 people.

He will then return to Dublin to celebrate the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families in the Phoenix Park.

During his stay in Ireland he is also due to visit the Capuchin day centre in Dublin's city centre, Dublin Castle and Dublin's Pro Cathedral.

Hundreds of gardai will be redeployed from around the country to Knock and Dublin. Specialist units will be involved in the days beforehand in sweeping and securing points along the Pope's route. The Garda's air support unit will be deployed throughout the Pope's visit. The Defence Forces and the Air Corps will also be providing back-up for the duration of his visit.

Garda Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy told the Dublin City Council's joint policing forum earlier this month that the event will require around 1,500 gardai to be assigned in Dublin alone. They will work up to 18-hour shifts.

The security will be at its peak at the Phoenix Park event on August 26, when an estimated 600,000 people are expected to attend the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families.

All the events are ticketed, and those who wish to attend must register online.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News