Flanagan says ban on Garda overtime was a ‘misunderstanding’

‘There will be overtime for gardaí over the December and Christmas period’

Mr Flanagan said the increase in new recruits entering the force and the fact slightly less gardaí retired during the year than usual added to the overtime bill. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

A ban on Garda overtime in the Dublin region for the month of December, which has since been reversed, was the result of a "misunderstanding" Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.

"I am satisfied following discussions at the highest level yesterday that any misunderstanding or any misinterpretation has been cleared up, and there will be a provision of overtime for gardaí over the December and Christmas period," Mr Flanagan told the Oireachtas justice committee on Thursday.

There will still be a ban on overtime until Monday December 4th, but a suggested cap on most forms of overtime for the entire month of December outlined in a leaked circular from Garda management to superintendents in the Dublin Metropolitan Region has been reversed.

The estimated Garda overtime bill for 2017 will exceed €130 million, which is an increase compared to recent years, Mr Flanagan outlined.


In 2016 the overtime bill was €91million, €56million in 2015 and €37.7million in 2014.

On Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting €42million in supplementary funding was approved for Garda overtime, however this anticipated extra funding would have already been spent by gardaí over the course of the year.

The large overtime bill in part relates to an agreement made on additional overtime pay for a task gardaí were already performing, made last year to avoid a threatened strike by the force.

Speaking to the Oireachtas committee Mr Flanagan said the overtime bill was expected to fall in the next number of years as the increase in new recruits entering the force helped spread the workload in stations.

Mr Flanagan also said slightly less gardaí retired this year than usual, which had to be taken into account when considering the overtime bill for this year compared to future years.

“I wish to reassure members that there will be funding available for the Garda overtime for the Christmas period, for the December period” .

Independents for Change TD Mick Wallace questioned whether the closure of the Garda training college for a number of years during the recession had led to less Garda numbers and increased overtime.

“I don’t often agree with deputy Wallace as the record will show but I think he’s absolutely right,” Mr Flanagan said.

"With new gardaí coming out of Templemore that should release the pressure on Garda overtime, because we'll have more numbers in stations" he said.

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers was critical of the misinformation in the public around Garda overtime.

Mr Chambers said the leaked circular gave “the wrong message at the wrong time, and there was concern across many communities in Dublin” over the proposed ban on overtime.

Mr Flanagan said “I was very concerned myself, and that’s why I was very anxious that matters would be clarified at the earliest opportunity … We are at all times keen to ensure that there are sufficient funds made available to meet the demands of security within the state.”

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times