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Monday 19 March 2018

State visits leave garda authorities out of pocket

Tom Brady Security Editor

Special funding to cover the cost of providing unprecedented security for the visits of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama last May has not yet been handed over by the Government.

The Department of Justice admitted last night that its officials were still involved in negotiations for the payment of the cash.

The lengthy delay has forced garda authorities to use their annual budget to meet the payroll costs and overtime incurred by their members during the massive operation.

As a result, garda management around the country is struggling to finance the day-to-day costs of running the force because of the shortfall.

The overall cost to An Garda Siochana of the two state visits amounted to €35.8m, of which €24.2m was spent on safeguarding the queen.

A breakdown of the expenditure shows that €28.4m met payroll costs, including overtime, while another €3m went on travel and subsistence and €4.4m on other costs.

Shortly before the visits, it was agreed by senior Justice and Finance officials, and rubber-stamped by their ministers, that the costs should be met by special funding from the exchequer.

All garda leave and rest days were cancelled for the visits and gardai on duty had to work longer than normal shifts.

An estimated 8,000 gardai and 1,800 members of the Defence Forces were involved in the operation.

Last July, Mr Shatter disclosed that the final cost for all involved, including civil servants, came close to €40m and that the vast scale of the security operation was commensurate with the very real security threats involved.

Irish Independent

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