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Shatter needs extra €32 million for gardaí and Magdalene payments

The Justice Minister also said today that An Garda Siochána’s new recruitment campaign will begin next month.

Alan Shatter before the Justice Committee today
Alan Shatter before the Justice Committee today
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has confirmed that his Department needs an extra €32 million this year in order to make up a shortfall in the garda budget and to provide compensation for women who were in the Magadelene Laundries.

Speaking at the Justice Committee today, Shatter criticised Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins for raising the issue earlier this week and claiming that there would be a €51 million shortfall in the An Garda Siochána budget for next year.

He said that though an additional €51 million is required for the garda budget, as well as €5 million for the payments to victims of the Magdalene Laundries, almost €24 million can be saved from other areas in the Department of Justice’s budget.

This will mean that overall an additional €32 million will be needed for this year.

Some of the savings have been identified in the Prisons Service, the Courts Service, the Property Registration Authority and the overall Justice and Equality Budget, Shatter said.

“This leaves the net supplementary estimate requirement for the Justice Vote Group at €32 million,” Shatter said. “Not €51 million – a fact conveniently overlooked when the Fianna Fail spokesperson took to the airwaves earlier this week.”

Previous supplementary budgets

Shatter said that a supplementary estimate for the garda budget is not unusual, pointing out that gardaí needed an extra €30 million in 2009 and €40 million in 2010.

“Is the Deputy suggesting that, in 2013, our Gardai shouldn’t get paid?,” Shatter said, referring to Collins.


Independent TD Finian McGrath and Fianna Fáíl’s Niall Collins at the committee today

The Minister pointed out that 90 per cent of the garda budget is taken up by payroll and pension costs.

He said that the cost of overtime for the G8 summit and the possibility that over 1,200 members of the gardaí could retire at any time makes these costs “something of an imprecise science”.

In the case of the Magdalene Laundries, Shatter said that the bulk of the compensation payments will be made in 2014, but said that letters have been issued to some of the women affected in the last 24 hours outlining the terms of their compensation.

Garda recruitment

The Minister also told the committee that he expects the new garda recruitment campaign to begin at the start of December.

He said he expects two groups of new recruits to be brought to Templemore College in 2014 with an initial group and then, within three months, another group describing what will be a “rolling recruitment” process.

He said that the courses these new recruits will undertake have been revised and modernised.

Shatter also informed the committee that there are 13,137 members of An Garda Siochána with 1,129 reserve members and an additional 187 people training for the reserve. There are also 2,000 civilian staff.

Later, Shatter said that the bill for Criminal Legal Aid this year would be around €50 million and said that legislation to reform the aid would be some time away given other legislative measures being pushed through his department at present.

“I would like us to effect more savings, while ensuring people’s rights are protected,” he said of the cost of Criminal Legal Aid.

Fianna Fáíl: €51 million Garda payroll over-run is “bad planning” by Shatter

Read: Garda escort bikes out of action for two months

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Hugh O'Connell

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