Budget 2017: Garda to get 800 recruits and €71.5m for overtime

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald says total Justice budget will increase by €85m to €2.54bn

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said her department’s total budget would be €2.54 billion. Photograph: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said her department’s total budget would be €2.54 billion. Photograph: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency

 

The budget for An Garda Síochána will allow for the recruitment of 800 gardaí and up to 500 civilians next year, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said.

Ms Fitzgerald said her department’s total budget would be €2.54 billion, an increase of €85 million over the revised estimate in 2016.

She said the total Garda overtime budget for this year was likely to amount to about €91.5 million, but that had included a number of exceptional events, such as the visit of US vice-president Joe Biden to Ireland.

Next year’s overtime budget of €71.5 million would allow for “sustained pressure” to tackle gangland crime, to fund the continuation of Operation Thor and to ensure Garda efforts to prevent international terrorism were “unrelenting”.

Under Operation Thor, which was announced last November, gardaí have established checkpoints and taken other measures to tackle gangs involved in a large number of break-ins. A total of €5 million was allocated for the operation.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Government had approved her proposal that the Garda workforce should total 21,000 by 2021, including 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe indicated there was no money allocated in the budget to meet any pay increases for gardaí that may arise from a forthcoming review of their remuneration.

A Garda pay review, which dates back to the former Haddington Road public service agreement, is due to be completed in December.

Courts Service

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More than €30 million has been allocated in additional funding for the Courts Service, bringing the total gross allocation to €140 million in 2017.

Ms Fitzgerald said capital funding of €23 million, plus €4.5 million for ICT, would be set aside to modernise courthouses and to enhance technology in the courts.

The €327 million allocation for the Irish Prison Service next year will include provision to commence the construction of a new 110-cell wing and a women’s unit in Limerick Prison, as well as a new maximum security wing in Portlaoise.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said the plan to increase Garda recruitment was good news for communities. He claimed that throughout the general election campaign and prior to the agreement entered into between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in May, the Tánaiste “did not believe that it was feasible to put such an increase in Garda numbers in place”.

However, Mr O’Callaghan said “significant reform” and investment were required within the existing force.