Justice Minister Alan Shatter has admitted his department will need to be bailed out to the tune of €32m this year to fund the pay and pensions of gardaí as well as compensation for the women of the Magdalene Laundries.
He told the justice committee yesterday that he required an extra €51m for An Garda Síochána’s budget plus an additional €5m for the Magdalene Laundries but this €56m total would be offset by savings of €24m in other areas.
He confirmed the total external funding required for the Department of Justice this year would be €32m and not €51m as previously claimed by Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins.
Mr Shatter insisted a supplementary estimate requirement was “neither unusual nor unexpected” as gardaí needed an extra €30m in 2009 and €40m in 2010. He said 90% of the Garda budget was accounted for by payroll and pension costs and asked if it was the view of Fianna Fáil “our gardaí shouldn’t be paid”.
He also told the committee that a Garda recruitment campaign would begin in December and advertisements would be placed in newspapers. He said there had been 30,000 expressions of interest from the public.
Mr Shatter also told the committee that the bulk of the payments to Magdalene survivors would be made next year.
Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien pointed to these week’s special reports in the Irish Examiner about the growing epidemic of heroin in Cork and surrounding areas and asked Mr Shatter if Garda drug operations were being sufficiently funded.
Mr Shatter didn’t comment specifically on Cork but said 55,000 cannabis plants worth €44m on were seized by gardaí last year and said from 2011 to September of this year €221m of drugs had been seized. He said heroin wasn’t the only problem on the streets as medicines sold illegally were being widely abused.
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