The Garda operation outside the Russian embassy in south Dublin has incurred overtime expenditure of more than €200,000 since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. However, the full cost of keeping the embassy and its staff safe is much higher as most of the gardaí posted there are on regular rostered duties rather than working overtime.
For most of the last 14 months, the main purpose of the Garda operation has been to provide a visible presence as well as opening and closing a security barrier as the embassy’s staff enter and exit in their cars. Because the barrier is just outside the compound, responsibility for it falls to the Garda rather than the Russians, who have their own security inside the compound.
Costings obtained after a Freedom of Information request by The Irish Times reveal overtime spending – including weekend and night-duty allowances – for the Garda’s embassy operation was €212,000 from March 2023 to last month.
Informed sources said when the Garda operation was at its peak for a time last year, as anti-Russian sentiment in the Republic surged following the invasion, the Garda presence outside the embassy on Orwell Road, Rathgar, cost between €50,000 and €100,000 per month.
That spending was so high, the sources said, because of the number of gardaí deployed at the time. A command-and-control centre, staffed by additional gardaí, was also placed at the site for a period in the event a major policing response was required to quell significant public disorder.
However, since then, crowds gathering outside the embassy have reduced, though a small group of anti-Russia protesters still gathers every day. They shout anti-war and anti-Russian slogans – holding up placards – as the Russians drive in and out in their cars. There are also infrequent larger gatherings, which result in an increased Garda presence for several hours on those days.
While the permanent Garda deployment has been scaled back since last March and April, including the removal of the command-and-control unit, the Garda presence is still in place on a 24-hour basis. Manning any Garda static post with one member of the force requires the deployment of five or six gardaí on a full-time basis. Several shifts of gardaí are required in each 24-hour period, while resting time and annual leave must also be factored in.
A permanent Garda presence was deployed in March last year after a vehicle was reversed into the embassy gates shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Russian ambassador Yury Filatov complained at the time gardaí were not doing enough to keep him and his staff safe.
Permanent barriers were erected outside the embassy and, for a time, a Garda vehicle was parked in the entrance of the embassy compound, being moved in and out of position every time a Russian embassy vehicle needed to enter or exit the compound. Since then, a moveable steel barrier, designed to withstand being rammed by a large vehicle, has been erected, with gardaí on site responsible for opening and closing it for the Russians.