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Commissioner says €22m for 'parading time' is drain on garda overtime budget

The Garda Commissioner is appearing before the Oireachtas Public Accounts committee for the first time today.

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris says the payment to gardaí for 15 minutes of ‘parading time’ before the start of their shifts is a “drain” on the overtime budget.

This payment, which is supposed to cover handover briefings between shifts, was introduced in 2017 as part of the garda pay deal.

The ‘parading time’ payment for rank-and-file gardaí was one of the Labour Court recommendations and despite the fact that it is essentially a fixed payment, it is not part of salary and instead comes out of the overtime budget.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee this morning, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said this payment made up a “significant proportion” of his overtime budget.

This year €22 million out of the total overtime budget of €95 million will be spent on this. He pointed out that this, as well as court attendances and prisoner escorts, is one area of his restricted overtime budget that he has no influence over.

He said this “drain” on the budget was “not sustainable” and he had a query about the need for the additional 15 minutes in the first place. He told the committee that the five unit, five shift roster system allows for overlap so briefings can take place during the normal tour of duty.

Under recommendations made by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, the organisation will be looking at rosters and at pay and allowances. Commissioner Harris said when these issues are opened up this payment will be looked at.

He said there had been some success in managing overtime with the reduction in discretionary and administrative overtime – the spend in the first quarter of this year is €21.7 million, which is €6 million less than the first quarter of last year.

He acknowledged this has had “some impact on the delivery of policing” but said overtime is still available for specific policing and security operations around organised crime and violent dissident republicans.

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