Flanagan’s office contacts Garda amid overtime ‘misunderstanding’

Taoiseach says there is enough funding for Garda overtime next month

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Garda overtime was paid a month in arrears. “I would have hoped or assumed Garda management would have been aware of that.’’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Garda overtime was paid a month in arrears. “I would have hoped or assumed Garda management would have been aware of that.’’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

 

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told the Seanad on Wednesday night his officials had been in touch with the Garda Commissioner’s office about overtime cuts.

They had been informed “any misunderstanding that had arisen internally relating to the availability of necessary overtime in the period leading up to Christmas, had been clarified by the relevant assistant commissioner’’, he added.

He said the 2018 budget had provided for just under €100m in overtime next year.

“I am at a loss to comprehend the proposition, made by some commentators, that there is no money to pay for Garda overtime in the run-up to Christmas,’’ the Minister added.

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there is enough funding to provide Garda overtime next month.

He said a supplementary estimate for Garda overtime would be voted through the Dáil on Thursday.

“The State will be policed throughout December,’’ he added.

The Taoiseach was replying in the House on Wednesday to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who raised the revelation that assistant commissioners around the country were informed their budgets for all policing had been cut by 15 per cent.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) described the cancellation of Garda overtime as an early “Christmas present for criminals’’.

Mr Varadkar said the total overtime Garda budget this year was € 130 million, which was very big.

It was happening at a time when the number of gardaí was increasing again, with 200 more full-time members of the force available to police the State next month.

He said he “would like to understand the public announcement yesterday a bit better’’.

He said overtime was paid a month in arrears, so December overtime would never have been paid out of the 2017 budget anyway. It was paid in January.

“I would have hoped or assumed Garda management would have been aware of that,’’ he said.

Mr Martin said an assistant commissioner had said the Garda budget for 2017 had been exhausted.

“I think we need a better explanation as to how this happens within our security system,’’ he added.