Gardaí demanding payment from local festival committees is not acceptable – Mac Lochlainn
Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has expressed his outrage at recent revelations that An Garda Síochána has requested payment from local community groups for the policing of community events and festivals.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“It is not acceptable that local community, voluntary and charity groups are expected to foot the bill for policing services at events and festivals. These groups are made up of committed and hardworking volunteers who plan and organise events and festivals to benefit local communities and businesses. Such groups often have to fundraise to make such events happen and to require them to pay for the work of the Gardaí on top of this is unfair.
“Charity events, community fairs and annual parish festivals are the lifeblood of rural communities. Such events encourage tourism and contribute to community spirit. It is vital that these events are supported by Government as opposed to being made jump through the loopholes to pay for the effects of cutbacks to Garda resources.
“Traditionally, the Gardaí have worked alongside the community in planning and organising events and festivals. The fact that they are now requesting payment for their services will only further the damage caused to Garda-community relations due the closure of Garda stations and other cutbacks to the service.
“To demand organising committees to pay for policing is nonsense. In my own county of Donegal, I have been informed that the thousands of euro demanded of one festival organising committee far exceeds the grants given to the festival by Donegal County Council and Fáilte Ireland. In essence, it’s one arm of the State paying for the services of another arm of the State and all the while local communities are burdened with the cost.
“There is no doubt that organisations that organise large scale concerts and events, that generate large revenue and profits, should cover the cost of policing such events. However, in terms of local community events, festivals and charity events, the legislation that allows for requesting such payments must be amended to protect our local groups and encourage local tourism. If the Government refuse to do this, my party will introduce a Bill to amend the legislation. These festivals are the heart of local communities and we cannot expect them pay such costs that may sink many cherished and traditional events.”