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Garda leave allowance cut as Covid-19, Christmas set to put pressure on policing



Garda annual leave has been significantly restricted as Covid-19, the busy Christmas period and personnel shortages are set to put pressure on policing resources across the Republic until the end of the year.

While up to 25 per cent of Garda members from the same stations or units are usually permitted to take annual leave at the same time, that has now been reduced to 10 per cent as the force braces for a high-pressure period.

The reduction in what is known as the “extraction rate” has been ordered by Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, in recent days. The direction comes as senior Garda management readies for the busiest time of year as the pandemic persists.

There is concern the continued high rate of Covid-19 in the community, with more than 3,000 cases now being confirmed each day, will result in Garda members falling ill or isolating with symptoms.

Furthermore, the pandemic has interrupted recruitment to the Garda force. That means the usual supply of trainees from the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, will not be available this year to bolster frontline policing during the busy final weeks of the year.

There is also concern that reopening the night-time economy has already resulted in increased assaults and public disorder in some parts of the country, which may worsen as Christmas approaches.

‘Increased demands’

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters said the force always reviewed resources at this time of year “to maximise operational capacity in line with prevailing and potential operational demands”.

November and December led to “increased policing demands” associated with the busier night-time economy and heightened roads policing operations over Christmas, it added. It confirmed there were “no additional resources available from the Garda College” before the end of the year.

In order to respond to the demands of the pandemic, the lack of student gardaí for frontline duties, society reopening and the usual Christmas and New Year period demands, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris had extended the pandemic contingency roster. It involves longer 12-hour shifts to maximise Garda numbers on the street.

Garda Headquarters also confirmed the “extraction rate” for annual leave had been restricted.

“The Garda Commissioner [has] acknowledged and commended the commitment and dedication of all the staff of An Garda Síochána in their response to date and ongoing in delivering a national policing response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” it added.



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