Refugees fleeing terror hotspots in Syria and other Middle East locations have had their Irish rescue delayed by a row over garda overtime pay.

The deployment of a team of eight officers and two sergeants to the Middle East as part of the government's Refugee Protection Programme was canceled last Friday following a disagreement on overtime.

The team was to have flown out to Jordan for 13 days to interview up to 300 refugees and asylum seekers seeking to travel to Ireland.

The Garda Representative Association, representing rank and file members of the force, accused garda management of a breach of working time and public service agreements.

The association called on Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to intervene.

Philip McAnenly, deputy general secretary of the association, told RTE the team was told at “the 11th hour” that they would not get paid for their overtime. 

“Throughout the public service, the norm is that when any public worker works on a rostered day off or a rest day, or on an annual leave, the appropriate overtime rate will apply. These gardai were not looking for anything different,” he said.

The current overtime agreement allows for gardai to decide whether they want to be paid or to take the time back at a later stage. 

Over 2,000 people have been relocated or resettled in Ireland as part of the program in the last four years.

The government committed in September 2015 to accept 4,000 people into the state through an EU relocation scheme and UN-led resettlement programs.

A Justice Department team already in Jordan was due to be joined by the gardai to interview and undertake security assessments of candidates prior to them being formally accepted for resettlement to Ireland.

 The Justice Department told Irish media outlets in a statement that neither the mission nor the EU funding for the program has been put in jeopardy.

A statement said, “The Irish Refugee Protection Programme is using the mission to interview families potentially seeking to come to Ireland as refugees to assess their overall suitability to be accepted as refugees in Ireland.

“There are many aspects to this process which can be completed without requiring garda presence.”

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