Rank and file gardaí are demanding a special allowance to compensate members of the force who must pay a higher price for accommodation in designated rent pressure zones.
Garda Damien McCarthy, a member of the Garda Representative Association central executive committee, told day two of its annual conference that many young gardaí are struggling to pay for rent in cities, suburbs and adjoining large towns.
At the conference in Killarney, Garda McCarthy listed 22 location countrywide where soaring accommodation costs were acknowledged by the government.
“Living or working, in an area designated as a rent pressure zone means an increase in the cost of your day to day life. Put simply, it means that our members are placed in a situation where it costs more to work in an area that is designated as a rent pressure zone,” he said.
“Take childcare for example. A recent survey by the ‘Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’ showed that the average cost of childcare nationally was €181 per week, which rises to €240 per week for an area that also happens to be a rent pressure zone,” he said.
According to a survey from Numbeo, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin are all rent pressure zones and feature in the top 100 most expensive cities to live in the world.
“Due to the demands of this job, a newly attested probationer in the Garda College (Templemore) could be assigned to any station within the Republic of Ireland without any say.
"This includes being stationed in or near any one of these 22 rent pressure zones where the cost of living is higher.
"These new probationer gardaí are already at the pin of their collar, the bottom of the ladder on the pay scale, faced firstly with the daunting task of finding somewhere to live and then the ability to work in that area within their limited means,” Garda McCarthy said.
"Well now it’s time for this association to seek remuneration to make this an affordable model. This could be in the form of a standalone allowance or perhaps even a tax relief for these members."
“I spoke to a delegate the other night about this who told me that areas of his division are on the cusp of being declared as rent pressure zones. Ares in Cork such as Middleton, Youghal and Fermoy are in the same situation where there have been large increases in the cost of rent in these towns recently,” Garda McCarthy added.