Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the force has been “devastated” by government austerity measures and was “20 years behind” in many areas, particularly in technology.
The police boss backed calls by senior garda managers for 800 recruits to be taken on every year — 200 more than currently.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS), the commissioner also said:
She told superintendents that the force’s capacity and capabilities had been seriously diminished under austerity.
“We were strapped before the recession hit,” she said. “We were devastated by necessary government action resulting from that recession. Substantial recent increases in monies available to us allow us to begin to address problems we’ve had for a long, long time.”
She added: “Let’s not sugar coat it. In many areas, we are 20 years behind where we should be, particularly when it comes to technology. Those had enormous implications for our response to emerging security and crime challenges.”
She referred to various reports of the Garda Inspectorate which highlighted the force’s outdated technology.
She said a “big challenge” for the organisation was in the area of building up its capacity to deal with “cyber crime and cyber security”.
The inspectorate pointed out that the organisation currently did not have a dedicated cyber crime unit.
The commissioner welcomed the €300m-plus commitment under the outgoing government in garda technology.
AGS president Noel Cunningham said the Government was currently “in a state of flux” and urged the new administration to reassert its commitment to this funding.
Ms O’Sullivan supported calls from AGS for 800 recruits to be taken on every year, 200 more than the 600 currently being taken in.
“Certainly if there were to be a number of 800 that would be very, very welcome because that would allow us to fill spaces at a much quicker pace and rebuild the capabilities of the organisation,” she said.
The commissioner described last week’s gangland murder of innocent homeless man Martin O’Rourke in Dublin’s north inner city — the fourth in the Kinahan-Hutch feud this year — as “absolutely horrific”.
She said all the murder investigations were going “very well” and that part of their efforts was to prevent a further escalation.
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