More gardaí on street for first time since recruitment ban
The strength of An Garda Síochána has increased for the first time since recruitment resumed last year.
Up to now, the extra personnel being taken into the Garda College in Templemore have accounted only for the numbers leaving through retirements and resignations.
This was a result of the Government and Garda authorities trying to play "catch-up" following the five-year ban on recruitment imposed in 2009.
A programme to increase civilianisation and free up more gardaí to work on the streets also got under way yesterday.
An initial batch of 140 recruits is being taken in by the summer and will be deployed in the national specialist units as well as in desk duties, which will allow an estimated 50 extra gardaí to be released from offices.
The move is part of an overall plan to double the number of civilians in the force from the current 2,000 with a target date of 2021. In the same time frame, the authorities are planning to increase Garda strength from 12,900 to 15,000 and the reserve force to 2,000.
Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey said the aim was to ensure that "every corner of the country" would benefit from the extra numbers.
He was speaking during a passing out ceremony for 149 recruits yesterday at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
Mr Twomey said that for the first time since recruitment resumed last year, following the five-year moratorium, Garda numbers had gone up.
The strength has increased from 12,800 to 12,900 and it will continue to rise as it is planning to recruit 800 new members a year, compared with about 300 leaving annually.
The head of the civilian staff, chief administrative officer Joe Nugent, said it was a "great day" for the force.
The new staff would also introduce a range of skills and disciplines into the organisation, he added, while freeing up gardaí.
Around half of the probationers passing out yesterday have been allocated to stations in the six divisions in the Dublin metropolitan region.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan told the probationers that the values and code of ethics for the force were grounded in the reality that they could not do their job without the assistance, support or trust of the public they served.
"This trust cannot be, and should not be, taken for granted in your new careers," she said.