Belfast Telegraph

Shatter denies Garda cuts claims

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has dismissed claims that Garda numbers will be slashed by 1,000 members by the end of the year.

Reports that a huge reduction in the force's annual budget would mean officers will not be paid during this year were also "simply wrong", Mr Shatter said.

Under the Government's public spending cutbacks, around 26 million euro has been shaved off the Garda payroll bill. A further 10 million euro in savings must be made in allowances.

It was reported that senior managers in the force were looking at ways to stand down between 1,000 and 1,400 members this year - some through career breaks and secondments - to meet the austerity measures. But Mr Shatter dismissed the suggestions as "wildly inaccurate".

"There is absolutely no question during 2013 of not paying 1,400 officers, nor is there any question of the Garda force being reduced by 1,400 members during 2013," he said.

There are currently around 13,430 members serving in the force, despite a deadline under the terms of the EU/IMF bailout to cut the payroll to 13,000 by the start of this year.

Mr Shatter said the most recent plans were to reduce numbers to around 13,150 by next December, but it was now more likely that figure would be closer to 13,000. There is usually in the region of 350 to 400 retirements from the force during a year.

"The reality is, there is no cause for concern or alarm," he said. "We have an obligation to spend public money wisely, we have an obligation to reduce public expenditure.

"As a minister, I am fully supportive of gardai. It is important they retain their operational effectiveness, and we will of course ensure the funding is available to meet the wage bill for members of the force throughout the course of the year."

The Garda Representative Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it will be asking Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan if he has sufficient resources to effectively police Ireland and pay members. It has called for an independent police authority to be set up to determine policing resources.


From Belfast Telegraph