Increase in garda recruits as more than 500 gardai to join the force
Garda strength is to increase to 13,500 by the end of the year - an increase of 500 over last year.
The biggest intake of garda trainees passed out yesterday at the Garda College in Templemore and the total of 198 new members included seven from England and one each from Scotland and Poland.
Junior Justice Minister David Stanton described the growing numbers as "real, tangible progress" in reaching the Government target of 15,000 members, in addition to 2,000 reservists and 4,000 civilians by 2021.
He said it was critical that the police service reflected the communities it served. "The Garda Reserve, in providing an opportunity for volunteering at local level, has the potential to provide a means for those communities, both old and new, who might not see An Garda Siochana as being a place for them, to get involved and to see it through new eyes."
Mr Stanton said the strategic review of the Reserve, currently under way, would examine ways in which its potential could be harnessed to maximise its contribution to a more diverse workforce.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan told the new members they could not have missed the almost daily coverage about failings, or perceived failings, in the service and at any stage in the last year, could have decided that the organisation was not for them and declared they would not quit.
"You didn't say that. You stuck with it. And that shows the guards you will be.
"Because it isn't going to go away, you know. The controversies are a reality.
"But what you've done is shown the resilience you will need throughout your careers. You've shown the belief in An Garda Siochana to which the service is entitled. Most of all, you've shown faith in your capacity to shape the organisation to fit a constantly changing reality", Ms O'Sullivan said.
She added: "I keep saying that if you start turning over stones, as a reforming Garda Siochana is committed to doing, you're going to find stuff you'd prefer you didn't find.
"But it has to be found. It has to be addressed. It has to be faced up to.
"In many situations, it has to be apologised for and in all situations, it has to be learned from", the commissioner said.