An Garda Síochána received almost €1.5m from promoters and organisers to police some of the largest events held in the country last year — but received no external payment towards the cost of providing security for the Pope’s visit.
Ed Sheeran’s three Irish dates accounted for more than a quarter of the cost of the 10 most expensive “non-public duty” events policed by gardaí, according to figures released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.
Sheeran’s sell-out shows in Cork, Dublin, and Galway accounted for €390,000 of the €1,470,348 paid in total to An Garda Síochána for the 10 most expensive non-public duty events.
Some annual events saw their policing costs rise since 2017.
The National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore was the largest single non-public duty event of 2018, with organisers paying €347,608 to An Garda Síochána, up from €250,000 in 2017. Electric Picnic also saw a slight increase in costs, up almost €12,000 to €319,740.
However, while the 10 most expensive non-public duty fees received by gardaí include those for events held in Croke Park and Phoenix Park, there were no fees paid towards Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland in August.
Gardaí confirmed that the pontiff’s visit was considered a public duty by the force, and so no payment was sought from the Catholic Church or the organisers of the World Meeting of Families.
Figures released by the force in October estimated that the Pope’s visit cost almost €5.4m to police, but said at the time that the figure could increase if outstanding claims had yet to be processed.
“Non-public duty is performed by members of An Garda Síochána under arrangements made with organisers of events such as football matches, concerts, and race meetings etc. who seek to engage the services of members of An Garda Síochána to perform duties to which they would not normally be assigned,” said the force.
“Members of An Garda Síochána have been made available for the performance of such duties and the State has charged for their services. This work is normally performed by members who would otherwise be off duty.
“It is generally the practice to charge organisations for the costs of duties performed by members inside the event.
“In general, the cost of policing duties performed by gardaí outside the event such as traffic control, beat patrols, and other public policing duties, which would be additional to those normally performed at the location, are not paid by the organisation hosting the event but fall to be paid from the Garda Vote,” said An Garda Síochána.
“However, at some specific larger events An Garda Síochána seeks a contribution from the promoters to overall policing costs.”