Garda superintendents want regular intake of 800 recruits to offset impact of previous ban
Senior Gardai have warned that recruitment to the force needs to be radically increased on current levels to offset the impact of the previous ban and the numbers either leaving or being promoted.
Garda superintendents want a regular intake of 800 recruits rather than the existing batch of 550 to 600.
They say the existing figure is not enough to cope with annual retirements and resignations, which is estimated at about 300, as well as those being promoted from rank and file.
Association of Garda Superintendents president Noel Cunningham told its annual conference in Naas today that substantial gaps existed across the force as a result of the five-year moratorium on public service recruitment.
He also called for more targeted operations, which were focussed and properly funded.
He said Operation Thor, which was launched last November to crack down on burglaries nationwide and property crime, was a good example of how initiatives, which had sufficient resources and finances, yielded the right results.
"Operations like Thor are always successful because they are targeted on a specific objective and are given the proper backing", he said.
He said similar intelligence-led operations were needed to tackle areas such as organised crime, rural crime and dissident republican activity.
Mr Cunningham said he welcomed the promised modernisation programme but said it had to be properly managed and could take a number of years before the benefits of new technology and equipment could be seen.
He questioned the claim by the head of the Garda Inspectorate. Bob Olsen that 1500 gardai could be released from desk duties and sent out to police the streets while being replaced in the offices by civilians, and 300 of those could be freed up immediately.
Mr Cunningham wanted to know where those people could be found and pointed out that many of those officers filled pivotal roles in areas such as communications and resources and would have to be replaced by people, who needed to be trained and given equal skills to carry out those duties.
He also said he did not accept that morale in the force was low.
"I see people out there every day doing their job. Its a professional police force. That is not to say that they are not struggling in their personal lives", he added.
He said their problems should be sorted out by re-activating the Haddington Road agreement and bringing it to an early conclusion.
He was supported by association general secretary Denis Ferry, who said the stalling of Haddington Road was a big factor and there was a need for immediate resumption of talks and negotiating an early end to the discussions.