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15,000 compete for just 100 Garda jobs

MORE than 15,000 people applied to join the Gardai last week -- for just 100 positions.

Releasing the figures, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has warned that a failure to lift the garda recruitment ban would be" very detrimental".

He claimed that more garda could be deployed on the frontline if the Government lifted the ban on recruiting civilian staff to the gardai.

Mr Murphy told the Dail Public Accounts Committee the number of civilian vacancies in the force was 270.

"I believe a substantial number of additional gardai could be freed for operational duties if these gaps could be filled," he said.

"In many areas, particularly the smaller Garda stations around the country, the work associated with these vacancies must be carried out by gardai in the absence of sufficient civilian staff to provide the necessary cover."

The garda force is currently made up of 14,670 people, 2,113 being made up of civilian staff.

The number of civilian staff employed by the gardai has almost doubled since the end of 2005, when just 1,166 civilians worked for the gardai.

The ratio between sworn members of the gardai and civilian staff currently stands at 1 to 7 but the Commissioner is anxious that the force moves closer to the international norms of 1:3 or 1:4.

Mr Murphy said over 5,000 had applied in one weekend after advertisements were recently placed for new Garda trainees. That figure had since risen to more than 15,000. It is expected at least 100 will be admitted for training.

The Comptroller and Auditor General John Buckley said that just 144 gardai had been released from administrative duty from the end of 2005 and 2009 and that figure was "considerably less" than envisaged.

However, the commissioner said civilianisation did not necessarily imply that civilian staff directly replaced gardai in full-time posts.

"Rather than putting gardai back on the street, we were ensuring that gardai were not taken off the street to fill these important roles."

Fachtna Murphy also revealed that 50 members of the Garda Reserve, which currently comprises 557 officers, had been made full-time members of the force.

He said 22 officers would be appointed to superintendent rank shortly.