Garda Commissioner overtime bill 20% over budget as garda spending hit by US visits

Garda Commissioner overtime bill 20% over budget as garda spending hit by US visits
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has told the Policing Authority his overtime bill is 20% over budget and that this has been driven by policing demands outside his allocated resources, such as the visit of US president Donald Trump.

The commissioner’s August report to the authority said the organisation has been told by the Government that the extra costs must be managed from within their original allocated budget.

The report warned that, due to the €10m excess spend on overtime covering the period to the end of July, it will be necessary to “reprioritise” expenditure for the rest of the year.

It said the €10.25m does not include the overtime bill arising from the visit of US vice president Mike Pence earlier this month, which it said would also need to be factored in.

Costs for the Pence visit have been estimated at €3m to €5m. The visit of Mr Trump was calculated at €10m to €12m.

The cost of the visits and their impact on policing is likely to be raised by opposition politicians when the commissioner appears before the Oireachtas Justice Committee this morning.

The Irish Examiner reported last July that Garda HQ had been told by the Department of Justice that no supplementary budget would be provided to pay for the visits, unlike other years, and that the money would have to be found from the existing budget.

Senior sources said that the significant overspend would threaten intended projects and training, including long-awaited IT capital projects, as well as cuts to overtime for normal policing services, including in divisions fighting gang feuds.

The August report said that the management accounts for July show that payment of salaries was €2m over and that this was “primarily due to costs associated with the visit of President Trump”.

It said that expenditure on overtime for the year to date was €62.5m, which was €10.25m over the profiled spend, suggesting that the expenditure was 20% over budget.

“The year to date was driven by a number of events which required extra policing resources in addition to the available rostered resources, eg the visit of President Trump,” said the report.

As An Garda Síochána has been informed that expenditure must be managed within the voted allocation, the structural underfunding of a number of administrative subheads plus the cost of policing the presidential visit are such that it will be necessary to reprioritise expenditure to year’s end.

In a further veiled warning, it said: “In addition to the above, when the planned visit of Vice President Pence in September 2019, and the associated security and policing plan, is costed, it will have to be factored into a revised financial projection to assess the impact of these additional costs plus any additional targeted savings.”

Senior gardaí said such visits of State are traditionally provided for in supplementary budgets.

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