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Visits of Trump and Pence this year cost An Garda Síochána between €15-18 million

The figure was about half the security costs for Pope Francis’ visit last year.

Trump bids farewell to Doonbeg in June of this year.
Trump bids farewell to Doonbeg in June of this year.
Image: SMG/PA Images

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has said this year’s visits by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence cost the force between €15-18 million.

Harris was speaking during a public meeting of the Policy Authority this afternoon and said the cost included overtime, travel, lodging, meals and equipment.

The visits of Trump in June and Pence earlier this month both prompted huge security operations with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar predicting last year that a Trump visit would cost “several million euro”.

Harris provided the figure this afternoon as he was questioned by Dr. Moling Ryan about the budgetary preparations of An Garda Síochána for major security events.

Ryan noted that gardai are seeking reimbursement from government for the cost of security during both visits and he enquired whether such events could be allocated for in advance.

“Something not too dissimilar to that would happen on an annual basis, you have a Papal visit, you have a significant football matches, something like that, and is that not something foreseeable that ought to be built into your budgetary process?,” Ryan asked.

Security costs for Pope Francis’s visit last year were estimated at about €32 million, while visits of President Obama and Queen Elizabeth in 2011 were almost double the original estimate, costing €36 million.

In response, Harris said it was not possible to set aside “rainy day” funds in case money is needed for such a visit.

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“The presidential and vice presidential visits were unknown to us when we were going through the estimates process on 1 January,” he said.

“It’s not reasonable as an accounting officer in effect to ask for a rainy day in the order of €15-18 million Because this isn’t just overtime, there’s travel and subsistence and lodging and meals but also then capital expenditure on equipment. And these are significant operations that we have to undertake and we can’t guess how many visits. We may have no visits in 2020.”

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Rónán Duffy

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