OVER 30,000 people have expressed an interest in joining An Garda Siochana when recruiting begins next year for the first time since 2009.
The Irish Independent has learnt that a recruitment competition will start in six weeks to select 150 applicants who will enter the training centre in Templemore early in 2014.
It is planned that a further intake of up to 200 recruits will take place three months later.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said recruitment would be ongoing to ensure that numbers do not dip below 13,000.
Th 30,000 people who registered an interest in joining the gardai did so via the Public Appointments Service website, www.publicjobs.ie, over the past number of years.
Interviewees will be selected from those who registered before a final decision is made on who will enter training.
The allocation of funds for new recruits is included in An Garda Siochana's €1.34bn budget for next year, which accounts for over 60pc of the total Department of Justice spend.
It also includes a significant €9m investment in the force's ageing transport fleet.
The annual allowance to members of the Garda Reserve is to be made exempt from tax.
"At a time when very difficult economic decisions still have to be made, I am glad to say that despite a reduction of just under €70m I have managed to secure €2.16bn for the justice sector for 2014," Mr Shatter said.
He added: "This brings to more than €400m the additional funding I have secured over and above the amounts allocated by Fianna Fail in their recovery plan."
The minister revealed that he had also received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure for derogations from the moratorium on public service appointments.
"In the last two-and-a-half years, 88 sergeants, 40 inspectors, 53 superintendents, 17 chief superintendents, four assistant commissioners and one deputy commissioner have been appointed to maintain the management and supervisory capacity of the force," Mr Shatter said.
It is understood that a number of further senior-management posts, including the rank of deputy commissioner, vacant since June, will also be filled in the near future.
Three new divisional Garda HQs are to be built in Wexford, Galway and Kevin Street in Dublin as part of the Public Private Partnership.