Ahern to lift ban on recruiting new gardai
THE garda recruitment ban is to be lifted and new trainees are expected to join the force before the end of the year.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday announced he was lifting the moratorium on hiring imposed by the Government due to the poor health of the State's coffers.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for 267 trainees at the Garda college in Templemore, Co Tipperary, Mr Ahern said he had intended to announce that he was lifting the ban on recruitment at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference in Co Limerick earlier this week.
However, Mr Ahern refused to attend the conference after learning of the contents of the speech of outgoing GRA president Michael O'Boyce.
"To be honest, I would rather do it here and say it to the new recruits," Mr Ahern added.
"I am planning to commence recruitment before the end of the year in order to replace retirements and keep the garda numbers up at approved levels."
Currently, there are 14,500 officers enrolled in the force.
Mr Ahern also acknowledged that the Garda college in north Tipperary was very important to the people of Templemore.
"There were some suggestions and people were worried that this place might be mothballed -- there is no question of that. We will be commencing recruitment panels before the end of the year," he said.
Mr Ahern said later in Killarney, Co Kerry, that the number of recruits being taken on would be decided later in the year.
He pointed out that 700 gardai had left last year but so far this year it was back down to normal levels of around 400.
Mr Ahern said he was anxious to maintain the strength of the force at the record high it had reached in the past few months.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said he was "very pleased" to hear of the lifting of the ban.
"It is something I was hoping for and I am thankful to the minister and the government for doing that," Commissioner Murphy said.