THE growing exodus of gardaí from the force has been sharply underlined by official figures revealing that almost 600 gardaí have decided to leave early.
Garda associations warned there will be fewer gardaí on the beat and fewer experienced officers as a result. Figures released by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern show that 579 gardaí have applied for voluntary retirement to date this year.
This compares with 243 voluntary retirements in 2008 and 177 in 2007.
Gardaí can retire early once they have reached 50 and have served 30 years.
Of the 579 gardaí:
* 5 are at chief superintendent rank — compared with none in 2008.
* 22 are at superintendent grade — compared with 2 in 2008.
* 24 are at inspector rank — 13 in 2008.
* 126 are at sergeant grade — 52 in 2008.
* 402 are at garda rank — 174 in 2008.
Based on figures for the strength at each rank, supplied by the Garda Síochána to the Irish Examiner, the applications for voluntary retirement represent 10% of the 51 posts at chief superintendent rank; 13% of the 175 positions at superintendent rank; 7% of the 329 posts at inspector level; 6% of the 2,152 positions at sergeant grade; and 3% of the 12,012 posts at Garda rank.
A spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said they were “alarmed, but not surprised” at the figures and expected further voluntary retirements by the year’s end. “This, combined with the recruitment ban, is going to negatively impact on the number of gardaí on the street,” said the GRA spokesman.
He said Garda incomes have gone down, while their workload and risk to their personal safety has gone up.
A spokesman for the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said: “We deplore the loss of so many experienced members, particularly scarce supervisors and frontline managers. We are calling for the removal of the embargo on recruitment and promotions.”
The figures were provided to Labour’s Seán Sherlock in response to a parliamentary question.
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