Fewer gardaí deployed to voting stations
Cuts in Garda overtime budgets since the recession meant there were fewer gardaí deployed to polling stations.
A Garda spokesman said the deployment of personnel to every polling station for a referendum or election had been discontinued before the last general election. Any security threat would be assessed before any vote, and the Garda would always be able to respond quickly to any incident at a polling station.
Most one-off duties such as deploying gardaí to polling stations are on an overtime basis. There are too few gardaí on regular duty at any one time to man all polling stations.
“It’s something that you can really only do on overtime, and if there’s a smaller overtime budget available then there are going to be fewer members deployed,” said a source.
Another senior officer said because the referendum was not seen as inflammatory it posed little security risk. “It’s a question of deploying personnel when and where you think you will need them, and the referendum on Saturday wasn’t seen as posing a big security risk. So even if you had the budget there would be no need for a member to be there for the whole day at every centre.”