Garda overtime being curtailed, not banned, says Justice Minister

Spend on overtime up to the end of September came to €95.1 million

Controls  put in place include the cancellation of overtime for administrative purposes.  File photograph:  Gareth Chaney/Collins

Controls put in place include the cancellation of overtime for administrative purposes. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Garda has already spent almost its full €100 million overtime budget for the year, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.

However, while further overtime expenditure was now being curtailed with closer controls there was no overtime ban in place, he said.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) recently reacted to news of the overtime cuts with concern and surprise saying it was an “extraordinary development”.

However, Mr Flanagan insisted in the Dáil that overtime had not been banned by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

“I am informed by the Garda authorities that expenditure on overtime to the end of September, 2018, amounted to €95.1 million,” Mr Flanagan said.

“I am further informed that, in order to limit the projected overspend for 2018, the commissioner has directed a number of measures to effectively manage Garda resources and limit the need for additional public funding.

“Management of Garda resources by the Commissioner in this way does not equate to a ban on overtime.”

The controls put in place include the cancellation of overtime for administrative purposes. Garda attendance in court and for the purposes of prisoner escorts must also be performed during rostered hours rather than during overtime. Travel and subsistence controls have also introduced.

Many in the Garda were concerned the restrictions on overtime would lead to crime fighting operations being curtailed. For example, the Kinahan-Hutch feud has necessitated significant overtime expenditure for investigations and patrols.

However, Mr Flanagan disputed this, saying: “The cancellation of overtime for administrative purposes is precisely to ensure that front line policing services continue with sufficient resources.

“And I have been informed by the Garda authorities that all essential policing operations, such as Operation Thor, will continue as before,” he said of the Kinahan-Hutch inquiry.

Announcing the cuts two weeks ago, Commissioner Harris said the Garda was set to “significantly exceed the budget this year”, adding that was not sustainable.

In order to “minimise the impact on policing and security activity” some controls were being introduced.

“Overtime will still be available for specific policing [AND]security operations, but only with the approval of the relevant Assistant Commissioner following discussion with the Deputy Commissioner [IN CHARGE OF]policing and security,” he said.

In some parts of the country local Garda management has imposed a ban on overtime for Sunday policing or administrative work.