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four days

'This effectively cripples us': Rank-and-file gardaí on what the short-term overtime ban will actually mean

Services are being pared back until next week – but how will the force be impacted?

ON TUESDAY EVENING, it emerged that an order had been sent to every station in Dublin by the Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy banning all overtime for the month of December.

Members of An Garda Síochána were shocked, so too were the reporters covering the issue. It had seemed that there would be no overtime in what would be considered one, if not the busiest time of the year for our police force.

However, after much clarification and to-and-fro both by Garda management and the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday afternoon, it emerged that overtime in December would be paid as it would come from next year’s Garda budget.

Even so, what this means now is that all Garda overtime between now and Monday coming is cancelled.

In the grand scheme of things, members have accepted it. However, for four days, many Dublin gardaí now feel helpless. contacted a number of members of the force and asked them if they could tell us what the overtime ban would mean to their daily routines.


One said:

“When we heard it down the station first, we actually thought it was a joke. Then it sank in and we were confused. Kind-of looking at each other saying ‘at Christmas?’.

I don’t want to go into specifics of what I wouldn’t be able to do but for the next week I’m clocking in to do paperwork and then I’m out. But there was mayhem here for a few hours anyway and I suspect there’ll be mayhem until Monday.

Another member added:

“Suppose somebody comes into my station and said ‘Right – Joe Bloggs around the corner is doing something with drugs’ – as in maybe he’s getting a kilo sent to his house to be cut on a certain day.

We couldn’t go in on someone’s word – we can’t do that. There’d be surveillance to be done and also asking other members familiar with that area to have a chat. That’s the kind of added work that gets a case over the line and that needs overtime. So to be out of it for over a month would be madness. But the four days is bad enough anyway.

Another garda told us that any planned arrests would not happen, there’d be no supervision in stations and, for some areas of Dublin, it means that there will be no anti-crime patrols in areas which see a lot of anti-social behaviour.

Other members said that until Monday there would no extra crime beats and no detentions for serious crime outside normal duty hours.

The message from one member summed up the feeling within gardaí:

No overtime effectively cripples us.

After criticism from rank-and-file organisation the GRA yesterday morning, the force issued a statement on the issue yesterday afternoon. All overtime would be covered from early next month as the 2018 budget money is to kick in then, it said:

“An Garda Síochána’s budget for 2018 starts on Monday 4 December and from that day overtime will then be available to regional, division and district officers for policing delivery within the overtime budget allocated to them. All officers will be reminded of the clear need for them to stay within allocated budgets.

Policing services will continue, including tackling organised crime (Op Hybrid in the DMR), Operation ‘Thor’ the nationwide anti-burglary initiative, as well as routine road safety initiatives.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in response to a question from Fianna Fail’s Micheál Martin, also confirmed in the Dáil that any funding for overtime in December will be taken out of the 2018 budget as wages are not paid until the new year.

“I would have hoped Garda management would have been aware of that,” he said.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland yesterday, the President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Ciaran O’Neill said that overtime was being used to supplement the force because there were insufficient numbers of gardaí servicing the State.

“Overtime is the cheapest form of policing and it has been used in the past to fill the numbers,” O’Neill said.

With reporting by Christina Finn 

Read: Varadkar tells Dáil that cost of garda overtime will be covered by next year’s budget >

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