A rank and file Garda officer in Donegal earned almost €19,000 in overtime payments during the first nine months of this year.
A second officer nabbed second place in the ‘overtime league’, topping up their salary by €17,218 while third on the list is an inspector who has enjoyed a wage boost of €17,046.
The figures come to light amid a crackdown by new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on the State’s overtime bill. He said that spending within the force is too high and that overtime has been cut for the remainder of the year.
A recent report highlighted how overtime spending within An Garda Síochána has increased by 185 per-cent since 2013, a rate the Government says is “not sustainable”. As a result the country’s Garda overtime budget for next year has been slashed by €3.5 million.
Despite the multi-pronged clampdown though, the Donegal News can reveal that a handful of Garda officers in Donegal are racking up thousands of euros per month by working extra hours.
Between January and September the top 20 earners in Donegal collectively boosted their wages by €270,000 in overtime payments.
The bill was run up between nine rank and file officers, six sergeants and five inspectors.
Brendan O’Connor, Donegal spokesperson for the Garda Representative Association, said he was surprised by the figures as, in his experience, local officers were regularly being told that overtime hours are not available.
“The figures will come as a surprise to the gardai that I represent because the vast majority of members are being told on a daily basis that budgets are restricted and there is no overtime available. I’m aware of officers being asked, if not expected, to carry out vital tasks in their own time and take time off in lieu because of these budget constraints,” Mr O’Connor said.
The GRA official pointed out that more than 50 per-cent of the overtime bill for Donegal was run up not by on-the-beat officers but by sergeants and inspectors, ranks that make up only a small fraction of the force.
Mr O’Connor said, “The Garda Representative Association has always felt that whatever overtime budgets are available should be concentrated on frontline operational policing. However these statistics do seem to suggest that the Garda rank members I represent and who make up in excess of 80 per-cent of the force, who are the visible presence in communities and carry out the vast majority of criminal investigations, are not proportionately represented in these figures compared to expenditure on ranks whose functions are primarily supervision and management with a significant administrative function as part of those roles.”
The Donegal News put the claims to An Garda Síochána.
A spokesperson said that overtime was a vital tool in providing an effective police service and that officers were regularly asked to work beyond their normal hours.
They added however that it was up to Garda management to ensure that all districts worked within their allocated overtime budget.
“An Garda Siochana must work within the budget made available to it from Government,” said a spokesperson.
“This has been made clear to managers throughout the year.
“Commissioner Harris has introduced a reduction in overtime for non-discretionary activity and on administrative overtime. For health and safety reasons a cap has also been introduced on the number of hours of overtime individual members can work.”
Rank Overtime paid between Jan and Sept 2018