Friday 24 March 2017

Number of front line garda personnel 'critically low' in most districts - senior gardai

Francis Fitzgerald
Francis Fitzgerald
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Senior Gardai have warned the Government that the number of front line personnel is now critically low in most districts.

And they told Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald that her current recruitment campaign is totally inadequate to offset their manpower losses.

"We are not gaining any ground in terms of our overall strength", Gerry Smith, president of the Association of Garda Superintendents admitted this afternoon.

He said he welcomed the recruitment of 300 trainees into the Garda College in Templemore and the government plans to take on a further 250.

But he told his association's annual conference in Naas that the figure was insufficient to prevent the capacity and capability to provide an effective policing presence on a 24-hour basis being serious diminished.

Mr Smith pointed out that in the past 12 months, 185 gardai had been promoted to sergeant, about 160 had been granted incentivised career breaks and 20 more were seconded to the Department of Social Protection.

Those combined numbers exceeded those, who were currently in training.

And with an average attrition rate of 250 to 300 gardai a year, through retirements and resignations, the problem of replacing those, who had left and would leave the organisation in 2014 and 2015, would not be addressed.

"We are now suffering the effects of the embargo on recruitment to the force over the past five years", Mr Smith added.

"A figure of 300 is inadequate and district officers are being stretched to the collar to respond to incidents on occasion", he said.

He revealed that his association had lodged a formal complaint with the Dail Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett on abuses of parliamentary privilege to tarnish the good name of members.

He said utterances in the Dail were now broadcast live, widely reported in the media and re-broadcast on a dedicated Oireachtas channel.

The damage was immediate and could not be undone by rectifying the official Dail records or withdrawing the utterance.

Mr Smith said he was satisfied with the response of Mr Barrett, given his limited powers.

He called on Mrs Fitzgerald to ensure that the parliamentary privilege bestowed on Dail deputies was respected.

He did not highlight any recent alleged abuses of parliamentary but it is understood they include remarks by independent deputy, Mick Wallace, who made allegations against a garda, who was then a superintendent and a member of the association.,

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