One Garda Sergeant last year received €52,953 in overtime payments, new figures show.
According to figures released by the Garda in response to a Freedom of Information request, three members of the force - all sergeants - last year each received overtime payments of over €50,000.
The figures show that only two rank-and-file members of the force were amongst the top 20 recipients of overtime payments. The members’ overtime was boosted by the Garda effort in enforcing Covid-19 travel restrictions and the ongoing battle against gangland crime.
The figures show that a second sergeant received €52,627 with a third receiving €52,154.
The highest amount received by a Garda rank and file member was €46,762.
Recent figures provided by the Gardai show that the overtime spend for 2020 totalled €97.85 million.
The figures show that the highest quarterly spends on overtime coincided with the two Covid-19 enforced lock downs as Garda were tasked to enforce lock-downs measures aimed at restricting people’s movements
The information shows that the Gardai overtime spend for the final quarter totalled €28 million - a 46% increase on the spend of €19.17 million for the third quarter.
The Garda overtime spend totalled €27 million for the second quarter that coincided with the first Covid-19 lockdown.
The €97.85 million spend on overtime last year represents an 8% decrease on 2019, which included the overtime costs of the President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visits.
Commenting on the overall overtime spend recently, Asst General Secretary with the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Dermot O’Brien stated: “We are policing in exceptional times and therefore unpredictable need for overtimes arises."
Mr O’Brien stated that GRA believes that the spend represents good value for money for the taxpayer.
Overtime is an interim solution to a pressing and often unforeseen situation
He said: “Overtime is an interim solution to a pressing and often unforeseen situation. It is usually used in circumstances which require extraordinary measures and which are expected to normalise within a short time frame."
He said while Government Covid-19 restrictions and the 12-hour shift for Garda pertain “then overtime is inevitable and necessary”.
According to Mr O'Brien: “Many gardaí regard the 12-hour roster as family-friendly because it involves four days on and four days off. It appears to have also boosted workplace morale and reduction in absenteeism.
“Fewer hours commuting and lower travel and subsistence costs are also benefits, according to member feedback."
Nature of the work
The Garda FOI unit also states that the nature of Garda work and the requirements that Garda authorities respond, in some cases, at short notice, to immediate policing demands means that there is a necessity to incur overtime expenses to ensure effective policing.
It states: “Accordingly, there will always be a need for a certain level of overtime to allow the Gardai flexibility when responding to circumstances that require additional resources for specific operations.”