Thursday 22 February 2018

Budget to fund 800 new gardaí, 1,000 nurses and 650 teachers

Health Minister Simon Harris Picture: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris Picture: Frank McGrath
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Funding for at least 1,000 new nurses, 800 gardaí and 650 teachers will be provided for in Budget 2017.

The Irish Independent understands the key departments of health, justice and education have been given the go-ahead for separate recruitment drives. Health Minister Simon Harris's priority will be to attract new nurses into the HSE, with money being made available for at least 1,000.

The majority of these jobs will be full-time permanent staff who will replace agency workers.

In the past year, 585 additional nurses have signed up with the HSE but the body still has serious issues attracting and retaining staff.


Sources say that the money being made available as part of the Department of Health's budget allocation will be used to look at ways of making the profession more enticing.

The HSE is already running a campaign to bring back hundreds of nurses who are currently working overseas, however, Mr Harris told a Dáil committee last month that just 83 nurses have returned.

The package on offer includes free flights and a promise of additional training.

However, hospitals in the UK are offering more competitive terms and higher take-home pay.

As of last month, the scheme had received 420 applications. But Mr Harris said there was still work to do to restore nurses' confidence in the health service.

He said there was a need to boost morale in hospitals if they were going to recruit more nurses. "When I talk to healthcare professionals, when I talk to managers, when I talk to healthcare groups, I don't think it is fair to say people are fed up of reform within the health service, but they are fed up of little bits of reform and they are fed up of never getting to complete the journey," he told the committee.


It is understood he made similar points during negotiations with Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe before signing off on his budget for 2017.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has received clearance to hire 800 trainee gardaí next year. As part of the confidence and supply deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil it was agreed to increase the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 members over three budgets.

This will require 3,200 new Garda members to be recruited on a phased basis over the next year, in addition the 1,200 that will have been on board since the reopening of the Garda College in Templemore in 2014.

It is expected that the next batch of new recruits will enter Templemore in mid-2017.

And Education Minister Richard Bruton is understood to be guaranteed money for at least 650 new teachers next year. The majority of new posts will be in primary schools where the number of pupils has been rising steadily in recent years.

Sources say this will allow for demographics and prevent the pupil-teacher ratio rising.

It is not yet clear whether any extra funding will be available to help reduce the ratio.

Irish Independent

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