Gardaí must be properly resourced to fight violent crime, says minister
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will put pressure on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe for increased investment in An Garda Síochána to help the force fight serious crime, as communities across the country are left reeling from a wave of bloody killings.
This is despite Mr Flanagan acknowledging an "unprecedented" €1.6bn allocation to gardaí this year.
"The last four weeks have been particularly challenging, in terms of killings, loss of life, murders. I'm very keen to ensure an appropriate level of resources is made available to An Garda Síochána," Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent.
Four innocent people have been murdered in the State in the past month, including two young people.
In one of the cases, gardaí have brought charges against one person, also a minor, and made one arrest in relation to another case.
Mr Flanagan said he has "spoken to Garda management about the recent turn of events".
Calling on communities to help gardaí in their investigations by providing "any piece of evidence or information that may often appear minor or innocuous", the minister added: "It's my hope and desire those responsible for these horrific acts will be brought to justice."
The minister welcomed 198 new Garda recruits at their passing out ceremony at the Garda Training College, Templemore, Co Tipperary.
They included 138 men and 60 women, of which 13 were non-nationals from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Poland, Northern Ireland and England.
Minister Flanagan said the Government's target to recruit 21,000 new gardaí by 2020 was "firmly on course".
He expects the successor to former Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan - who stepped down in September 2017, in the wake of myriad damaging controversies in the force - would be in their role by "early September".
It was an emotional day for graduate Karen Fitzpatrick from Artane, Dublin, whose boyfriend got down on bended knee and presented her with a sparkling diamond moments before the Garda Band led her and her colleagues on their passing out parade.
"He proposed to me with a huge giant fake ring and then he gave me my real ring, hoping it would fit me," she laughed.
"I think he just asked me 'will you?' and I started crying and I just kept shaking my head."
Mr Stapleton, from Swords, made the ring at the School of Jewellery in the capital.
"It took me about 20 hours to make. It is a gold inner ring with a silver surround and a square white stone. I won't be making another one," he joked.
Father-of-eight Declan Clarke, a former Defence Forces peacekeeping soldier from Bailieborough, Co Cavan, was awarded The Gary Sheehan Memorial Medal for best all round probationer.