Budget 2017: Anti-burglary initiative Operation Thor to continue for another year

The garda anti-burglary initiative, Operation Thor, is to continue next year after €71.5m was set aside for overtime payments.

But Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said no additional money is being set aside for garda pay claims.
The funding for Operation Thor is part of the €2.5bn Department of Justice Budget for 2017 announced today.

The future of the operation had previously been in doubt, with Ms Fitzgerald saying in recent months the highly successful initiative would have to be examined due to a collapse in burglary rates.
The Tánaiste also announced that the garda workforce will increase to 21,000 by 2021.

This will mean some 2,200 additional gardaí will be recruited in the next four years.
Civilian numbers will be doubled from 2,000 at present to 4,000, while garda reserve numbers will be jump from 800 to 2,000.

It is envisaged 800 additional gardaí will be recruited next year and up to 500 civilians and 300 reservists.
Ms Fitzgerald said she was confident the €71.5m set aside for overtime would allow for Operation Thor, gangland crime operations and measures to prevent international terrorism to continue in 2017.

The figure set aside for overtime is €20m less than will be spent this year.
However, Ms Fitzgerald said this year’s spend included a number of “one-off events” and should extra funding be needed for overtime, the figure would be reviewed.

Elsewhere the Justice budget will also include €6m for the building of a new forensic science laboratory in Backweston, Co Kildare, with construction to start next year.
Funding for the courts is to increase by €30m, up to €140m.

Much of the additional cash is to cover the cost of new courthouses and upgrading IT infrastructure.
Meanwhile, both the Data Protection Commissioner and the Charities Regulator are to get cash injections to increase staffing levels.

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