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Public Safety

Justice Minister announces €10m in emergency fund to pay for garda overtime in Dublin

Justice Minister Helen McEntee says she has ‘absolute confidence’ in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

LAST UPDATE | 28 Jul 2023

THE JUSTICE MINISTER has announced an emergency extra €10m will be given to the garda organisation to pay for overtime on Dublin’s streets. 

The announcement comes as the issue of insufficient numbers of gardaí to respond to calls hit the headlines this week after an assault on US tourist Stephen Termini near Store Street garda station.

Speaking to reporters in Templemore college today, the minister said the funding is being provided to “make sure that we have that permanent presence on the ground”.

The minister also said that she would be happy to meet with Stephen Termini’s family, who arrived in Dublin today, though she said they haven’t engaged with her yet.

McEntee confirmed that she has spoke to the American ambassador after the US Embassy in Ireland issued a warning that all citizens should “be aware of their surroundings, especially when travelling in unfamiliar places, crowded locations, empty street, or at night”. 

The controversy about under resourced gardaí has seen political and community leaders criticise the Government, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said she believed that the city was a safe place.  

At a public meeting this week Assistant Commissioner Angela Willis, who has responsibility for policing in Dublin, said the force was “down on numbers we would want to have.”

Her comments came after it was revealed earlier this week that the number of gardaí in Dublin’s north inner city is down almost 4% since the start of the year.

The additional funding that will be used to fill a gap in the policing overtime budget to put more Gardaí on patrol in the capital will be made immediately available and will provide for 240,000 extra Garda hours, or 20,000 extra Garda shifts, in the Dublin Metropolitan Region to the end of the year.

Recruitment targets missed

Minister McEntee made the announcement while attending the latest Garda graduation ceremony in the Garda College in Templemore.

Speaking today, she said the recruitment into An Garda Síochána is gathering pace, with bigger intakes every 11 weeks.

However, she told reporters at the event that the numbers are not where she would like them to be. Earlier this week, Varadkar said it would be difficult to reach the 1,000 garda recruitment targets for this year. 

The minister said there are 87 new recruits graduating today, 135 next week 154 the week after that.

“I’m already confident looking at the numbers for October, that we will start reaching the 200 target [per quarter]. It’s not where I’d like to be, I’d like us to be further ahead at this stage, but if we’re close to 800 this year, I have absolute confidence that we’re going to start reaching those targets of 1,000 come next year,” McEntee said. 

Commissioner Drew Harris was not in Templemore for the event, but was represented by deputy Commissioner Ann Marie McMahon today. 

Confidence in Drew Harris 

On Wednesday, the leadership of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) voted in favour of a ballot of all its members on a vote of no confidence in the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

When asked today if she ha confidence in Harris, McEntee said:

I have absolute confidence in the Commissioner.

She added:

“I don’t think it’s helpful what has happened in the last few days. I understand there are issues and I understand that the GRA have raised concerns. The most important thing in any job, in any organisation is that you sit around the table and that people have dialogue. And I think that’s the most important thing here.”

The minister said she hopes that is what will happen in the coming weeks, stating that the Garda Commissioner has said he is “very open” to sitting down with unions. 

She said she believes that Harris is willing to speak and to listen to the rank-and-file Garda members. 

“I know a lot of this has focused on the roster. I know how important that is. I know how important that is to the Commissioner, just for the daily running, the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation.

“I also know how important it is for Garda members, for their families, for that work life balance. So it’s really important that both sides get round the table.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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