New figures show the Garda overtime bill rose by 57 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
The €60.58 million figure for the first six months of this year compares to €90 million for the whole of 2016, and is €19 million more than the €41.4 million overtime bill for 2012.
The figures, released by the Garda in response to a Freedom of Information request, show one sergeant in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) earned €49,098 in overtime payments for the six-month period. This is more than a year’s basic pay for some sergeants, whose pay scales range from €44,725 to €51,385 per annum.
All the highest overtime earners are based in the DMR where a further 16 members earned payments of between €30,000 and €40,000 each.
Much of the Garda operation against the Kinahan and Hutch gangs has been concentrated in the north Dublin inner city area.
The total cost of overtime in the DMR for the first six months of this year was €26.39 million, an increase of 43 per cent on the €18.47 million spent last year.
The sharp rise in the overall overtime bill arose from the number of hours worked increasing from 1.17 million to 1.725 million.
A spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA), John O’Keeffe, commented: “The bottom line for the GRA is that overtime is always a short-term stop-gap. It never replaces full-time rostered members deployed permanently.
“Overtime is never the solution. It is the cheapest form of labour. Furthermore, overtime at current levels is a recognition that we do not have adequate police resources. Adequate policing numbers is the only solution – not overtime.”
He said An Garda Síochána was just over 13,000-strong, but a force of 16,000 was needed.
“Governments have found overtime an efficient and cost-effective measure, yet it has serious effects on work-life balance for frontline members. Frontline gardaí are routinely compelled to do overtime – it is not optional in such circumstances and gardaí may, for example, be directed to come to work on their day off. No other public sector employee would be directed to come to work on a rest day.”
The budget set aside €88 million for Garda overtime this year. A spokesman for the Department of Justice said it was aware of pressures on the Garda overtime budget and is working with Garda management to address the issues.