In the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when its status as a policing force was constantly brought into question members of the force also had to deal with persistent socio-economic difficulties. Low wages and substandard living conditions particularly in barracks were the subjects of ongoing complaints. Several enquiries over the years were undertaken in an attempt to address these grievances. Constable Patrick Burke of Limerick informed the enquiry in 1901 that his living expenses were £6.14s.6d per month while his income was £5.17s.0d. As such he estimated that a forty per cent increase would be needed if they were to be able to live a decent life.. The public perception of the constabulary’s financial status was also very evident. Constable Denis Horan of Kanturk stated to the enquiry;  ‘...

'There was something said about a policeman who, on account of debt, was transferred, from the place...This district councillor said the police were all paupers....Well I mean the married portion of them’

Most single men were required to live in barracks and were not permitted to marry unless they had seven years service and then only with permission of the district inspector after a perspective wife proved to be of good character. When a marriage took place the policeman was posted to another district away from his wife’s home county. A concession obtained later allowed a posting to an adjoining county to alleviate family difficulties. Marriage to a policeman was effectively marriage to the force. Rules and regulations extended to the wives of policemen who often resented intrusions into their ‘private’ lives. Officers were afforded an allowance to rent a house while married constableswere required to reside no more than one quarter of a mile from the barracks. They were forbidden to own any land, animals or poultry and wives were not permitted to work at any trade. From 1871 however, they were permitted to keep a pig and poultry but not sell them, and a garden not exceeding ten square perches. Outside accommodation had to be approved by the district inspector and had to be maintained in a similar fashion as that in the barracks, being equally subject to inspection.

Many married men who resided with their families in the barracks often did so under atrocious conditions. In 1859 the inspector general wrote that most barracks ‘were not great buildings constructed expressly for the purpose, but for the most part, simple dwelling houses, in no respect differing from those of their neighbours’ By 1914 the enquiry into conditions was informed by Constable Thomas Healy of Ballymena with eighteen years service referring to single men in barracks said ‘the dayroom in which they clean their clothes is open to all classes of society...drunken prisoners of both sexes of every rank are detained here for long periods when the lock up is insufficient...and in consequence is more like a common urinal than a place set apart for respectable persons’. The policeman in charge of a barracks, if married, was allocated quarters in barracks consisting of a sitting room and one bedroom which could house the sergeant, his wife and up to a maximum of four children.  When daughters of policemen reached fourteen and a half years of age they had to be accommodated outside the barracks for fear of moral corruption...’. Single and married constables were required to perform the duties of barrack orderly. Orderlies were not permitted to leave the barracks as they had to attend any persons making complaints. He was also responsible for the custody of prisoners and maintaining the patrol record. In addition he was also required to clean the day room and cook meals. The dayroom was to the men of the station their living room where they spent most of their time even off duty. An article in the RIC Magazine  July 1915 took a jovial view of the orderly describing him thus;'

'At 8 o’clock in the morning this creature proceeds from the back kitchen and advances into the dayroom with all the appearance of a broken man... The fact that his hands were jumpy is showing by missing slices of his jaw interspersed with spots where the razor cut the air many inches too high....His hair is unkempt, where he has any. Sometimes he has none, in which case he has made his scalp shine with a rub of brass plate and chamois, so that it reflects the beams of the morning sun with an intensity which blinds the eye of the sergeant...'.