Drew Harris to meet senior gardaí to assess budget at his disposal

Minister says force has ‘unprecedented’ resources and eye should be kept on how funds spent

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is to meet his senior management team on Monday to discuss the Garda budget, including overtime spending. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is to meet his senior management team on Monday to discuss the Garda budget, including overtime spending. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is to meet his senior management team on Monday to discuss the Garda budget, including overtime spending.

The meeting will provide the new commissioner an opportunity to review the resources at the force’s disposal and to test how effectively they are being used.

Mr Harris has said he would only be after the review that he could say if a larger budget was needed for the Garda.

With the numbers in the force, between sworn officers and civilian staff, growing at a rate of about 500 a year to more than 16,000, many senior officers believe the €1.6 billion budget for the force needs to be increased.

They point out the Garda would need a supplementary budget of some €30 million to balance its books this year. The provision of additional funds to deal with overspending has been common in recent times and spending this year was greatly impacted by the visits of Pope Francis and Prince Charles.

The planned visit of US president Donald Trump in November will also require additional one-off expenditure by the force.

Mr Harris previously served as deputy chief constable of the PSNI and many in the garda point to how senior officers in the North speak out against cuts to policing. They are hopeful Mr Harris will take a similar approach in voicing any concerns about Garda resourcing to the Government and wider public.

Non-committal

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan was non-committal about increasing the budget for An Garda Síochána when questioned by reporters at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, on Friday,

The Minister said the current budget for the force was “unprecedented”, adding that “a close eye” needed to be kept on how it is used.

While the cost of 500 having additional personnel had to be considered, he said the recruitment of extra gardaí would save money in other areas.

“Reliance on overtime will not be as it has been in the past,” Mr Flanagan said. “I’ve discussed this matter with the Garda commissioner. And I understand he is engaging at the highest level of the Garda to ensure overtime can be better structured and better managed.”

The Government was always mindful of the need to properly resource the force. It would continue to support the Garda in that regard under Mr Harris’s leadership.