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Wednesday 18 September 2019

'I’m much happier now' - why this young man left An Garda Síochána to become a booking agent

  • The number of rank-and-file gardaí resigning from the force doubled between 2015 and 2017
  • 2017 saw the highest number of resignations in the last five years
  • 41 gardaí resigned last year
Gardaí celebrate after the passing out ceremony of probationer gardaí at the Garda College in Templemore in 2017 Photo: Steve Humphreys
Gardaí celebrate after the passing out ceremony of probationer gardaí at the Garda College in Templemore in 2017 Photo: Steve Humphreys
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The number of rank-and-file gardaí quitting the force doubled between 2015 and 2017, figures released to show.

In 2017, a total of 41 gardaí resigned from the force, compared to just 20 in 2015, according to statistics provided by the Garda Press Office.

Records relating to the reasons given for a resignation do not exist.

However, gardaí have previously cited pay issues and potential assaults as the main reason for quitting.

Others realise that life in An Garda Síochána just isn't for them.

That’s how things transpired for John (not his real name), who left the guards in 2016, just a year after graduating.

He was part of the original intake of 300 people who trained after the five-year recruitment ban was lifted in 2014.

John said he felt that he spent more time with his head buried in paperwork and less time doing the parts he actually enjoyed.

“I liked being on the beat and the daily interactions with the public. The job is about making a difference and being able to serve and assist vulnerable members of the public. However, I found the whole administration side frustrating and daunting," he told

“From logging handed-in property to reviewing passport applications, it seemed you were doing more paperwork and worrying about an administrative error rather than the dangers of the job.”

He accepts that administration is a part of the role nowadays, but he said he feels the work of gardai is being compromised by a paper-heavy system.

“The pages and steps you have to record for a drink driver is ridiculous. It’s so backward it’s shocking. We’re marketed as a modern European police force but it’s still a paper-based organisation - it’s mental,” he said.

When John joined, the wage for new recruits was barely liveable, which was another factor in his decision to leave.

“There was no rent allowance and you were guaranteed to be stationed far away from home. At the time the yearly increments and degree allowance were frozen also.

“I would advise any person to get some life experience before joining. Travel, work in the private sector, go to college etc and wait a few years if you can before joining. Talking to a garda with a few years on the job and somebody in the training programme would give you a balanced view of what the job is like.”

John, now 28, works as a booking agent for rugby travel tours, a job he really enjoys.

“I wouldn’t say I was miserable in the guards, it was more so impractical to keep going. I’m much happier working away from our justice system.

“Working 9-5 is an immeasurably better work-life balance.

"The guards was a great experience and I made lifelong friends in the process," he said.

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