WHILE Garda recruitment numbers are set to fall from 1,100 to 400 a year due to cutbacks, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday pledged there would not be a halt to increasing Garda numbers.
He said: “Things have dramatically changed and they have been changing month by month. But if you look at the budget I took out recently there is a 2% reduction. In the management of the difficult circumstances I found myself in the department, I said to my officials that I wanted to concentrate the resources on tackling crime and you will see that in context of where we are I have done that. Despite what I read in the newspapers before the budget that there would be a freeze on Garda recruitment, there will not be a freeze.”
While there will be a reduced intake, numbers would continue to rise.
He said: “In fact the number of gardaí will go up this year alone from 14,200 to 14,900 by the end of the year. I would accept there is a reduction in overtime. But if you dramatically increase the number of gardaí, you are getting more productivity out of the existing force, so therefore the need for overtime is lessened.”
He said the gardaí are now very well resourced as a result of dramatic recruitment in recent years and are well able to do the job required of them.
Mr Ahern was speaking at Templemore Garda College where 277 new gardaí graduated. He presented three bronze Scott medals to gardaí for exception acts of bravery in the line of duty. Garda Patrick Kavanagh and Garda Stephen Foley — both stationed at Store Street, Dublin, — pursued and arrested two armed raiders on April 21, 2002.
One of the raiders aimed a double-barreled sawn-off shotgun at them through their patrol car window and pulled the trigger a number of times, but it failed to go off. Garda Charles Armstrong of the Bridewell got his medal for confronting two men armed with knives in the course of a robbery on September 22, 2006.
Garda Orla Ambrose from Co Wexford, received the Commissioner’s prize for highest marks; Garda Siobhan McCarthy from Ennis was awarded the Gary Sheehan Memorial medal for being the best all-round student and the Templemore Town Council medal for demonstrating insight in the social science studies course went to Garda Mary McCabe from Finglas.
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