By agreeing to pay the Revenue Commissioners €12.4m due in back taxes from garda members rather than collecting the money from individual gardai, management of the Garda have done the public a disservice.
The €12.4m is money which could, and should, have been spent on policing duties, protecting life and property, not paying back taxes.
The back taxes arose as a result of Garda management not deducting income tax on a raft of allowances payable to rank and file gardai. These included allowances for plainclothes duties, a bicycle allowance and an allowance for sitting on interview boards. That Garda management thought that these allowances weren't taxable, as it apparently did for many years, does not reflect well on the senior ranks of the force.
The allowances which are now taxable represent only a small proportion of the allowances which are paid to gardai. Allowances make up almost a quarter of total garda pay with overtime accounting for another tenth. This proliferation of allowances and overtime is almost certainly indicative of a management that needs to get a firmer grip on the organisation.
The Irish people don't begrudge their tax euros being spent on the Garda. However, they are entitled to expect that their hard-earned money is spent on protecting the public rather than compensating for management shortcomings.