Tuesday 17 July 2018

Almost 1,500 gardaí can retire by the end of the year sparking brain drain fears

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Stock picture
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

Rank and file gardaí have demanded faster recruitment after it emerged that over one in ten officers can retire by the end of the year.

The new figures, obtained by Independent.ie from the Garda Human Resource Management (HRM) section, reveal that 1,491 of the force's most experienced members qualify to leave the force before December 31.

While some may opt to stay in An Garda Síochana beyond their 30 years of service, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) have revealed that over 800 of these must step down in the next 12 months as they will have reached the statutory retirement age of 60.

The figures have emerged days after private documents showed how every garda unit, including all uniformed, detective and specialist units, are currently operating at an average of 20pc below strength.

Last week the Irish Independent revealed how the National Surveillance Unit (NSU), which secretly monitors the movements of gangland and terrorist suspects, is "dangerously" understaffed.

GRA Vice President Ciaran O'Neill claimed years of a government enforced moratorium on recruitment has led to this situation.

He said: "It’s our belief that of that 1,500, 800 must go by June 2017."

He continued: "The effect of that is that recruitment is not keeping up with retirements and promotions. So we are going to be down frontline members.

GRA vice president Ciaran O’Neill
GRA vice president Ciaran O’Neill

"This is the effect of several years of a moratorium on recruitment by successive governments."

Garda HRM confirmed that there were 12,798 garda members at the end of January this year.

A total of 196 members were availing of career breaks; 17 members of An Garda Síochána are currently on secondment to the Department of Social Protection; and a further 134 members were availing of paid maternity leave as of January 31, 2016.

The total number of members who qualify for retirement between now and New Year's day is 1491.

Mr O'Neill called for accelerated recruitment: "Everyday policing will be affected."

He added that there will be a brain drain within the force as they lose some of their most experienced and qualified members.

"These are people who have given 30 years service to their country. There is a massive loss of experience and we don’t have the recruits there to replace them."

Last month it emerged that three of the new gardai, who joined the force since the recruitment freeze, had left the force due to pay conditions.

Garda HRM have revealed that the number has now jumped to four.

Mr O'Neill claimed that more are likely to follow if the starting wage for a garda is not increased.

"We are going to find it hard to replace these members because the wages are so low for new recruits."

New gardai have a starting wage of €23,171 - significantly less than their colleagues who qualified before the recruitment freeze.

Dublin North West TD Noel Rock (FG) has urged the new Justice Minister to accelerate recruitment: "We are running to stand still: Garda recruitment is happening but it's coinciding with a period where a large number of Gardai can also retire.

"We need to make sure that Templemore is running to full capacity, that we are training new Gardai to full capability, and that we are not losing any more new recruits.

Noel Rock (FG)
Noel Rock (FG)

"Where possible, we need to work to convince those who can retire, but are not obliged to retire, stay on until we can get as many new recruits as possible out on our streets."

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