Department of Justice and Garda bosses have said overtime funding is available for December but gardaí confirmed a national ban on the practice has been in place since Tuesday and will run until Sunday.
The temporary ban was brought in so the force can keep within both an initial overtime budget of €88.5m and a supplementary estimate of €42m, announced yesterday.
It followed reports that Assistant Commissioner for Dublin, Pat Leahy, had told his divisional commanders there would be a ban on overtime for the rest of the year.
However, both the department and Garda HQ said that overtime was available for the month of December as it came from the 2018 overtime budget, which amounts to just under €100m.
Senior sources did concede that the overtime budget for 2018 would be “tighter” than 2017 and that regional commissioners would have to decide how they could stay within it.
As reported by the Irish Examiner last week, the Garda overtime spend was 53% over its allocation by September, hitting €97.9m, some €33.7m over budget.
In a statement yesterday, the Department of Justice pointed out that any overtime worked next month is paid out of the 2018 budget, not the 2017 budget.
“Budget 2018 provides for just under €100m in overtime next year,” a spokesman said.
He said the minister was due to present a supplementary estimate before the Oireachtas justice select committee today.
“This provision includes an additional €50.489m to pay for the pay subhead including over €42m for overtime,” the spokesman said. “This will bring the overtime budget to over €130m for 2017.” He said this compared to an overtime budget of €37.7m in 2014, €56m in 2015, and €91m in 2016.
Garda sources said there was a Budget 2017 allocation of €88.5m, which was spent by August. Official Garda figures show the spend reached €98m by the end of September and has increased since then. The €42m is being allocated to pay for the overtime already performed by gardaí.
Gardaí said the ban for this week had to be brought in as the supplementary budget did not cover any more funding.
“If we didn’t bring in the national overtime ban from Tuesday to Sunday, we risked blowing the supplementary budget and that would be a disaster,” said one source. However, some sources stressed the €100m overtime allocation for 2018 would be “tighter” than this year, which has an overall budget of €130m.
In a statement, Garda HQ said: “An Garda Síochána’s budget for 2018 starts on Monday, December 4, 2017 and from that day overtime will then be available to regional, division and district officers for policing delivery within the overtime budget allocated to them. All officers will be reminded of the clear need for them to stay within allocated budgets.
“Policing services will continue, including tackling organised crime (Op Hybrid in the DMR), Operation Thor the nationwide anti-burglary initiative, as well as routine road safety.”
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