Deputy Niall Collins said everything seems to be on the side of the criminal
WHEN the chips are down and you are arrested by gardai at least there is the possible guilty pleasure of a takeaway.
A freedom of information request shows that thousands of euro are spent every year on takeaways for men and women apprehended and questioned by gardai in Limerick.
It reveals that expenses of persons detained, for clothing and meals in 2017 was €9,280 in Henry Street, €4,507 in Roxboro, €952 in Bruff and €584 in Newcastle West.
A serving garda in the county told the Leader the money spent on food would be a large percentage of those figures.
“It is €6 or €7 per meal. It used to be more. The budget is very limited. Nine times out of 10 it ends up being the chip shop. It mightn’t be very healthy but they are fed. It’s normally their choice what they want. The tea is free,” said the garda.
He said it is down to common sense how often you give meals to those who have been arrested and conveyed to a garda station.
“If you pick a fellow up at 6.30am after raiding a place he is not going to have had his breakfast, for example. You try and time it in between interviews. I can guarantee you there are no four course meals. They can also opt to give us money and get them what they want,” said the garda.
In contrast, gardai don’t get any free food when they are working on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day etc.
“It’s only if you are away from your home station for between five and eight hours. If I have to go to Wexford to arrest someone I get €11 for a meal,” said the garda.
If a prisoner’s clothes must be taken away for forensic tests the garda says it is a trip to Penneys or Dunnes Stores for replacements.
Deputy Niall Collins said everything seems to be on the side of the criminal.
“I understand that people arrested have to be fed while being questioned but why can't they pay for their own food? If they are being held by gardai for a lengthy period of time it is normally for alleged serious offences. If they are arrested, charged and then brought to court they invariably get free legal aid. It just seems the State picks up the tab for everything.
“Gardai don't get a food allowance when they are working on Bank Holidays and unsocial hours yet they have to to run to the chipper for people they have arrested and the taxpayer pays for it all,” said Deputy Collins.
The Irish Prison Service was asked for the amount spent on takeaway food while prisoners are attending courts in Limerick city and county under the Freedom of Information Act.
In reply, they said: “The records do not currently exist and the request must be refused.”