Garda overtime bill of €23.85m for visits of Queen and Obama

 

GARDA OVERTIME accounted for €23.85 million of the almost €36 million security bill attached to the visits of Queen Elizabeth and US president Barack Obama to Ireland.

Travel and subsistence allowances worth close to €3 million were paid to gardaí working during the visits in May, while unspecified “other costs” amounted to near on €4.5 million.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter last week revealed the final figure would be an anticipated €36 million, having previously said the estimated cost would be not less than €20 million.

A breakdown of the final figure, €35.88 million, showed the Queen’s four-day visit produced a Garda security bill of €24.24 million while €11.64 million was spent on Mr Obama’s one-day visit. “All Garda leave and rest days were cancelled for this period and members on duty were required to work longer than normal shifts. Movements of several thousand Garda members over a number of days had to be arranged, involving the hiring of transport and the provision of accommodation,” Mr Shatter said.

A range of security-related equipment also had to be purchased or hired, he added.

Mr Shatter was informed by the Garda authorities that expenditure to date on payroll costs including overtime was €28.42 million: €18.55 for the Queen’s visit and €9.87 million for that of Mr Obama.

These figures were revealed following a parliamentary question put to Mr Shatter by Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary. “The visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama required unprecedented security arrangements to be put in place by the Garda Síochána to ensure the safety of our visitors and the maintenance of public order,” Mr Shatter said in his response.

Asked how much of the €28.42 million related specifically to overtime, a Department of Justice spokeswoman said a figure of about €23.85 million to date had been provided by Garda authorities. The further payroll costs, worth €4.57 million, covered employer’s PRSI and allowances. These costs were over and above ordinary Garda salaries, the costs of which are factored into the department’s budget on an annual basis.

The €28.42 million in payroll costs including overtime were additional costs that were not provided for in the 2011 estimates.

Mr Shatter’s spokeswoman said the Minister had previously highlighted the extent of the security measures that had to be put in place for the visits, which involved the deployment of thousands of members of the Garda Síochána.

These measures had to be significantly enhanced to take account of the activities of certain groups that posed considerable threats during the visits, she added.

“In that context the safety of our visitors and the maintenance of public order were the top priorities.”

Mr Shatter last week told the Dáil justice committee he greatly regretted the escalated costs and blamed “political malcontents and thugs” who wanted to disrupt the visits. In June he had told the Dáil the additional cost to the force “will not be less than €20 million”.

A Garda spokesman said he could not comment on an indicative figure previously given by the Minister.

Total security bill:€35.8m

Queen’s visit€24.2m

Obama visit€11.6m

€23.85m in overtime

€2.9m Travel and subsistence