Gardaí aim to entice Irish abroad to return home and join force in new €550k recruitment campaign

Garda recruits passing out of Templemore Garda College. Photo: Athlone Photography/Alamy Live News

Eoghan Moloney

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is encouraging people from “all backgrounds and communities” to apply to join the force, as their latest recruitment drive begins on Friday.

The State has spent €550,000 on a recruitment campaign that is not only aimed at people living in Ireland, but also aimed at Irish citizens living abroad, to entice them to return to Ireland to join An Garda Síochána.

"It’s A Job Worth Doing” will go live across TV, print, radio, online, and social media, as well as outdoors, from March 24. The campaign will also target Irish people living in countries such as the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The force has experienced retention issues in recent years and the Garda Representatives Association (GRA) recently warned of a “new phenomenon” of young trained gardaí resigning rather than serving in certain areas of Dublin.

General Secretary of Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Antoinette Cunningham, said garda recruitment and retention has the potential to become a “political failure” for Government as targets are not being achieved. Ms Cunningham said that the Government promised to recruit 800 gardaí last year. However, they "achieved just 120."

The target is to hire an additional 1,000 gardaí into the force this year, bringing the overall force to 15,000.

“We want, and need, people from all backgrounds and communities to be gardaí, and I would ask them to please apply. This is the only way we will get the representation among our ranks that communities need and deserve,” Commissioner Harris said.

"We also want to attract people who have gone overseas to come back and be a garda. This is a great opportunity to make a positive impact on the country you grew up in,” Commissioner Harris said.

Mr Harris said “being a garda is a great job” and said job satisfaction outweighs any challenges.

“You get to make a real difference in people’s lives. Policing is an honourable career and an extension of good citizenship. Every day, gardaí keep communities and people safe through our unique approach to policing by consent,” Commissioner Harris said.

"It is a tough job that has its challenges, but what you will get out of it in terms of job satisfaction far outweighs those.

“An Garda Síochána is an increasingly diverse organisation. We have one of the highest rates of female officers in Europe and in our last garda competition more than 20pc of applicants were from minority communities. However, we recognise that we have more to do in this regard to meet our aim of being fully representative of the people we serve.

"As I have said before, we want to not only meet the Government target of 15,000 gardaí, but given population growth and demographic change, as well as the rapidly changing nature of crime, I believe there is a strong case for more than 15,000 gardaí,” Commissioner Harris said.

The campaign is based on insights from gardaí and features real-life examples from individual gardaí of how they have helped people and communities.

The campaign aims to show the nature of the job – working at 4am, making arrests, being physically active, as well as the significant personal and social benefits such as engaging with communities, arresting criminals, helping victims of crime, and the camaraderie of colleagues.