Garda Band more expensive than Paolo Nutini and Macy Gray at almost €25,000 per gig 

Garda Band more expensive than Paolo Nutini and Macy Gray at almost €25,000 per gig 

Nearly €4.6m has been spent on the Garda Band over the past two-and-a-half years, during which time it has played at a total of 190 events in settings including schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and churches.

The Garda Band has cost taxpayers an average of almost €25,000 per performance since 2020 — a figure comparable to booking fees charged by some top stars in the music industry.

Nearly €4.6m has been spent on the ensemble over the past two-and-a-half years, during which time it has played at a total of 190 events in settings including schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and churches.

The €24,123 average cost for each gig is roughly equivalent to booking fees charged by top British bands Kaiser Chiefs and Editors, and slightly more than Paolo Nutini and Macy Gray, according to a price list previously leaked by a booking agency.

For an extra €6,000, event organisers could hire Grammy Award-winning US band The National, R&B singer Kelis, or American rapper Ice Cube, details that emerged from Degy Entertainment reveal.

The Garda Band is currently comprised of 26 full-time musicians who are ordinarily not involved in policing duties, but were deployed to assist with the implementation of Covid-19 restrictions at peak periods of the pandemic.

It still managed to perform at 84 events in 2020 and a further 37 last year. In the first six months of 2022, the band played at 69 functions, including a St Patrick’s Day event in London.

Singer Paolo Nutini will perform for a lower fee than it costs to hire the Garda Band. Picture: Matt Kent/WireImage
Singer Paolo Nutini will perform for a lower fee than it costs to hire the Garda Band. Picture: Matt Kent/WireImage

A number of performances during the pandemic took place remotely, including a series of three Christmas concerts during which the band was joined by a ‘flossing’ Santa Claus and two dancing elves named Sprinkles and Sparkles.

Almost €4,468,088 in salaries, wages and allowances have been paid to members of the band since 2020, while travel, transport and subsistence accounted for a further €35,688.

The events at which the Garda Band performed this year included the Fairyhouse Races in April, the opening of Dublin Airport Garda Station in May, and a garden party in Cork in June.

Earlier this year, Justice Minister Helen McEntee confirmed An Garda Síochána was in the process of engaging with the Public Appointments Service with a view to recruiting professional musicians to fill a number of vacancies with the band. The troupe had 29 members in 2020 but this has since been reduced to 26.

A Garda spokesman said the band was dedicated to the development of good relations with the community as well as performing at official functions.

“It achieves this through performance of a varied, entertainment-focused programme which evolves to suit every audience, event or setting,” he said.

The band plays a cultural role on behalf of the State, in bringing live musical performance of every musical genre to communities nationwide, many of whom would not otherwise experience live music.

“Members of the Garda Band were redeployed to frontline policing duties in response to the policing requirement during peak periods of the Covid-19 pandemic and all band performances during the Covid-19 pandemic were organised and undertaken in line with applicable public health guidelines,” added the spokesman.

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