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Garda services will be hit by cost of State visits, warns GRA

The government is “resisting paying” for the security operation around the visits earlier this year, the union has said.

Gardaí in Dublin during the visit of Queen Elizabeth
Gardaí in Dublin during the visit of Queen Elizabeth
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED that the cost of policing State visits earlier this year will impact on frontline services, as the Government is “resisting paying” for the security operation.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter acknowledged last week that ministers are still in discussions on how to fund the large-scale garda operation for the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and US president Barack Obama.

He said that there was a “significant” expenditure which had not been factored into the 2011 garda budget, adding that he was “finalising” talks with Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin on the issue.

PJ Stone, general secretary of union the Garda Representative Association, said the funding shortages as a result of the State visits would have the “direct result” of reducing policing resources, adding that this will “recklessly endanger our members’ safety and expose the public to perilous risk”

He added: “The government hosted a party and are now reneging on paying for it.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously said that the total bill for the visits, including the garda operation, would be around €20million.

However, Stone suggested the final cost of policing the visits would be as much as €36million. He wrote in an editorial for the Garda Review:

Our political elite welcomed two of the most recognisable heads of state in the world to Ireland in May, but has continued to resist paying for the security operation.

He said there was a serious shortage of patrol cars, and insufficient officer numbers to fulfil “even the most basic of policing plans”.

The Garda Representative Association warned our annual delegate conference in April, that the security costs of the state visits must be met by extra funding otherwise the policing service would be reduced and members would be cynically exposed to unacceptable dangers. These chickens have come home to roost.

Read more: Fall in Garda numbers will have ‘significant impact’ on policing services>

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Michael Freeman

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