Women’s Mini Marathon caught off guard with €21,000 bill for policing

Event running since 1983 had never previously incurred such costs for services

Organisers of the Women’s Mini Marathon have expressed their “surprise and disappointment” at being handed a €21,000 bill for the services of gardaí after the running of the event on the June bank holiday last year.

No such costs were incurred in previous years by the event, running since 1983 and one of the largest women’s only charity runs of its kind in the world. However, the amount, which has been paid in full, must now be factored into the running of future events, likely adding more than €1 to each race entry. The entry fee is expected to be set at €30 for the 2023 event, taking place this coming June 4th.

At its peak the Women’s Mini Marathon boasted more than 40,000 runners, with some decline in numbers in the last eight years, and no event in 2020 or 2021 due to Covid-19, other than the virtual race edition.

Last June’s 10km event attracted about 20,000 entries, and required 100 gardaí on the day between traffic management, road closures and start and finish security. A similar number of gardaí will be required this June.


“We certainly didn’t know it was coming,” Gerard McGrath, chairman of the Women’s Mini Marathon organising committee, said of the €21,000 bill. “It was an awful lot of money for us, and we’ve been told only last week, after asking, that we’d be billed again after this year, another outlay which will have to be passed on to the women in future.”

While none of the entry fee goes directly to charity, the event, hosted by Dundrum South-Dublin Athletic Club, is used by large numbers of Irish charities as an important annual fundraiser – with 80 per of race entries tied in with a charity of their choice.

The majority of other sporting events in the country, plus major concerts and festivals, have for some years been facing gardaí fees for what are considered non-public duty events, including matches at Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium, right down to smaller road running events.

The Dublin Marathon, which also resumed last October after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, said in a statement: “The Dublin Marathon incurs a wide range of operational costs including those for gardaí services which are integral to the event management of the Dublin Marathon and Race Series. This has been an on-going cost factored into annual budgets.”

The Garda press office was contacted for comment on the Women’s Mini Marathon.

In the past the Garda did not generally seek to recover costs for charitable events, as is the case with national public events such as policing the St Patrick’s Day parade or the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in 2018.

According to latest figures, An Garda Síochána collected €1.92 million in non-public duty fees in 2021, and that amount would likely be doubled for 2022. The cost involved for a single rugby and soccer match at the Aviva or GAA matches at Croke Park can range between €14,000 and €28,000.

The Garda Síochána Act, 2005, allows gardaí to charge for providing their services inside at concerts and sporting events, although some support and other outdoors services are still provided free of charge; the cost to the event holder is determined by the number of gardaí deployed and that the operational plan for a particular event is formulated by local Garda management.

Non-public duty is performed by members of An Garda Síochána under arrangements with organisers of events such as football matches, concerts and race meetings etc; they seek to engage the services of members of An Garda Síochána to perform duties “to which they would not normally be assigned”.

In general, some of the cost of policing duties performed by gardaí outside the event, such as traffic controls and beat patrols, are not paid by the organisation hosting the event.

Smaller road running events have also been facing gardaí fees for many years; last Sunday’s Raheny Five-Mile road race, which drew over 4,000 race entries, required 10 gardaí on the day at a cost of just over €2,000.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics