Gardaí seek emergency €23m budget for overtime and spending linked to pandemic

Gardaí seek emergency €23m budget for overtime and spending linked to pandemic

A garda checkpoint during the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Garda bosses have submitted a €23m emergency budget request to the Government to cover overtime and pay overspends throughout this year.

Garda HQ said the sum is driven mainly by the continuing demands of policing the Covid-19 restrictions and laws.

The €23m additional estimate is in the context of an overall budget for 2021 of €1.8bn.

A statement issued to the Irish Examiner by the Garda Press Office said: “An Garda Síochána has submitted a net supplementary estimate requirement of €22.9m for 2021 to the Department of Justice.” 

It said the organisation was “always conscious” of the need to provide an efficient and effective policing and security service within the annual budget allocated to it by Government.

“Spending is regularly reviewed by senior management to ensure budgetary targets are met,” the statement said.

This year, the overspend of €22.9m on an overall budget of €1.837bn is largely due to overtime related to policing activity to keep people safe during the pandemic and other operational activity.” 

Other operations include investigations targeting organised crime gangs and special operations targeting areas including domestic violence.

The November report from the Garda Commissioner said that the overtime spend had reached over €95m by the end of October, which at that stage was €14.8m over budget.

It said this was due “in the main” to the continued response to the Covid-19 pandemic and other operational activities.

The Department of Justice has submitted the requests for supplementary estimates to the Oireachtas Justice Committee as per the official process.

As well as the Garda submission, this included an additional estimate request of €3m for the Courts Service.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said: “Apart from the Garda Vote, the only other supplementary estimate requiring additional funding for the Justice sector in 2021 related to the Courts Service.

“An additional amount of €3m was provided relating to an expected shortfall in court fee income of approximately €7m as a direct result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic," it said. "This will be offset in part by underspends in other areas of approximately €4m, thus giving rise to the additional requirement of €3m.” 

It said there was a technical supplementary estimate in respect of the Justice vote which did not require additional funding, but rather the approval to offset surplus receipts of approximately €12.7m — mainly additional EU funding and immigration-related receipts — against additional costs including in demand-led areas such as criminal legal aid.

This time last year, an additional net estimate of €44m was sought for the Garda Vote, €33m of which was related to Covid-19 expenditure.

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