Garda overtime has more than doubled to €90m since 2012
Anti-crime operations, armed support, 1916 events and visits to State given as factors
Garda Emergency Response Unit: part of the increased costs in Garda overtime, according to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins
Garda overtime has more than doubled in the past four years from €41.5 million in 2012 to €90.03 million last year, according to newly released figures,
The number of overtime hours rose in line with the payments, from just over 1.29 million hours in 2012 up to 2.76 million additional hours in 2016.
There was a dip in overtime in 2014 when costs dropped to €37.25 million from €43.32 million the previous year.
It rose again by €18.5 million in 2015 to €55.78 million and then jumped significantly last year to €90.03 million.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan released the figures in a parliamentary reply from An Garda Síochána to Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace.
The Minister said the overtime was paid up to inspector rank based on additional hours worked during a four-week roster.
Mr Flanagan pointed out that expenditure for 2015 and 2016 included the continuation of the anti-crime initiative Operation Thor as well as the start of specific operations to combat organised crime. Additional armed support was provided in Dublin’s north inner city and the Dublin armed support unit was also established.
He said it included security operations at Dublin Port and Rosslare Europort and Border security activities.
The Minister also pointed to a number of one-off or “non-recurring events” including the 2016 centenary commemorations, and visits of former US vice-president Joe Biden and Britain’s Prince Charles.
Mr Flanagan told Mr Wallace than in June last year an extra €55 million was provided for An Garda Síochána “to allow for concentrated policing targeting gang-related crime, the continued intensive and strategic targeting of burglaries and related crime through ongoing support for Operation Thor and the continued support for measures against terrorism”.
But Mr Wallace claimed that “significant overtime” went into preparations for the Charleton Garda whistleblower tribunal.
He said questions had to be asked when Garda overtime more than doubles in four years. The Wexford TD said “no good business has such a high overtime bill”.
He said more gardaí should be employed rather than depending on such high levels of overtime, which was a “serious management problem”.
In his written reply to the parliamentary question, Mr Flanagan said the overtime was checked and approved locally by a garda’s immediate supervisor and then by the district superintendent.
The Minister said claim forms were checked to ensure compliance with the Garda finance code and that the electronic payment system “has built-in checks and parameters that prevent duplicate and excess claims being paid”.
Mr Flanagan added that spending on overtime is part of all regular divisional audits conducted by the Garda internal audit section.