herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Overtime bill passes €60m as gardai bid to keep lid on mob feud

On Saturday, the Irish Independent revealed more than 70 jihadi sympathisers are now being closely monitored here by Garda anti-terrorist units and military intelligence (stock photo)
On Saturday, the Irish Independent revealed more than 70 jihadi sympathisers are now being closely monitored here by Garda anti-terrorist units and military intelligence (stock photo)

The garda operation to contain the Kinahan/Hutch feud has helped to hike the force's overtime bill for the first six months of this year to €60.58m.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the bill rose by 57pc for January to June from the same period last year, when €38.43m was spent on overtime.

The cost for the first six months of this year compared with an overtime bill of €90m for all of 2016 and is €19m more than the €41.4m overtime bill for 2012.

The figures show one sergeant in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) earned €49,098 in overtime payments for the six-month period - more than a year's basic salary for some sergeants, whose pay ranges from €44,725 to €51,385.

All the top overtime earners were in the DMR and a further 16 picked up overtime payments of between €30,000 and €40,000.

Much of the operation against the Kinahan and Hutch factions has been in the north inner city.

The overtime bill for the Dublin Metropolitan North Central area was €6.5m for the first six months of 2017. The spend in the same period last year was €4.5m.

Stopgap

The sharp overall rise in costs arose from the number of overtime hours increasing from 1.17 million to 1.725 million.

Garda Representative Association (GRA) spokesman John O'Keeffe said the bottom line was that overtime was always a stopgap.

"It never replaces full-time, rostered members deployed permanently," he said. "Overtime is never the solution. It is the cheapest form of labour.

"Furthermore, overtime at current levels is a recognition that we do not have adequate police resources.

"Adequate policing numbers is the only solution - not overtime."

Mr O'Keeffe added that the service relied on overtime primarily because of a deficit in numbers.

"An Garda Siochana is just over 13,000 strong now, yet we need a force of 16,000 to police efficiently," he said.

"Governments have found overtime an efficient and cost-effective measure, yet it has serious effects on work-life balance for front-line members."

The Government's 2017 Budget set aside €88m for garda overtime. Additional funding will now be required to fund the bill for the year.

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