DESPITE the embargo on garda recruitment, significant numbers of new recruits will still be graduating from Templemore college until the end of next year, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said yesterday.
Mr Ahern said: “There will be continuing relatively large [graduations], indeed right up until probably to the end of next year. We had a programme of taking in 100 every quarter and obviously that is now curtailed as of the middle of this year. But again, this (college) is a resource to be used for training and retraining of the gardaí and we won’t have a ban on recruitment forever.
“Obviously, next year we will be looking at it again in the light of making sure we keep the numbers up as high as possible, given the fact that this government and our predecessors raised numbers to a record high.”
Mr Ahern made his comments as 263 gardaí graduated from Templemore. The force now has a strength of 14,371, which will rise to 14,900 by the end of the year.
Before the ceremony, a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect to Garda Robbie McCallion, who died on Tuesday as a result of injuries he sustained while on duty in Donegal.
Mr Ahern, addressing the new members of the force, said: “It is not a long time ago since he was here pledging allegiance to the State and the community he so proudly served. He is not the first garda who has been called upon to pay the ultimate price in his work proctecting the community. His death is a stark reminder of the dangers you face. But you should bear in mind too that in carrying out your duties you will have huge support from the community you serve.
“The vast majority of the Irish people hold An Garda Siochána in the highest esteem. While it is right at a time like this that we remember all those gardaí who have fallen in the course of their duties, I am sure you will take heart from that support.”
The growing international aspect of the Garda force was underlined by the awarding of the Garda Gary Sheehan Memorial medal for best all-round student to Romanian-born Ofeila Hough, and the Templemore Town Council medal to a native of Long Island, New York, Scott Kahler.
Gda Ofeila, who is 31, speaks six languages and will be stationed at Henry Street in Limerick.
Gda Kahler, who will be stationed in Mullingar, was attached to the New York State police before moving to Ireland.
The commissioner’s medal for the student who achieved the highest aggregate marks in academic subjects went to Garda Kirsten Somers, who will be stationed in Blanchardstown.
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