By Gemma Kavanagh and Chelsea Tyler McNeill
In 2014 and 2015, over €37 million was paid to the gardaí in overtime. A year on, and that figure has more than doubled to over €85 million.
“The increase in Garda overtime spend from 2014 to 2015 arose for a number of reasons,” said Damien Hogan of the Garda Press Office. “The roster changed that financial year, which allowed us to allocate more overtime. Also, a number of major policing operations required additional overtime such as the visit by HRH the Prince of Wales and the implementation of anti-crime and anti-burglary initiatives such as Operation Thor,” he said.
In 2015 the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, launched Operation Thor to focus on crime prevention and targeting individuals involved in burglary and related crimes. A budget of €5 million was provided by the Department of Justice and Equality for Operation Thor, to include a combination of additional high visibility patrols, checkpoints, rapid armed response and public awareness measures.
Operation Thor is just one of many new plans put into place in the last two years to prevent organised crime in Ireland. The main driver for cracking down on organised crime has been the Hutch/ Kinihan gangland feud that has been haunting the streets of Dublin since Gary Hutch was shot in Spain in September 2015.
The Hutch/ Kinihan gangland feud has been the bloodiest in Irish history with ten men being murdered within the year. The gardaí came under heavy criticism as to why they were unable to stop these murderous gangs walking the streets of Dublin.
“Given the fluid nature of such groupings it is extremely difficult to quantify the number of criminal groups operating at a particular time. Splinter groups and new gangs can form overnight. Organised crime is constantly evolving and new innovations in crime are continuously emerging,” Hogan told us.
In order to keep on top of organised crime, An Garda Síochána participate in international seminars which help them to identify new trends in crime.
“In the last number of months, An Garda Síochána has made significant progress in tackling organised and serious crime gangs, which cause such harm to communities here and abroad. Between March 2015 and September 2016, we have seized €1.9 million in cash, 35 guns, 1000 rounds of ammunition, 36 million worth of drugs and we have arrested 167 people in relation to these crimes,” he said.
An extra €5 million was also allocated by the Department of Justice in February to tackle organised crime. By that stage, four men had been shot dead in reprisals from the gangland feud. The money was used for overtime to facilitate checkpoints, extra patrols and implementing measures to tackle organised crime. The remainder was used for equipment and the €5 million was spent by the end of June 2016.
On the 8th of June 2016 the Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald allocated an extra €55 million to the overtime budget for 2016.
The additional money was to support the policing of organised crime such as:
> Concentrated policing targeting gang related crime.
> The intensive and strategic targeting of burglaries and related crime.
> Measures against terrorism.
> Policing one off events such as the visit from the Prince of Wales and the 1916 commemorative events.
“An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities we serve. An Garda Síochána will continue to assist Government Departments and other State agencies in this task, including the development of a new National Drug & Alcohol Strategy, to be in place from 2017 and the enactment of new legislation counteracting emerging trends in the illicit drugs market place in Ireland,” Sergeant Hogan said.