GRA: First-class service requires more gardaí

A garda organisation has claimed the force’s current numbers are “insufficient to provide the first-class service the public deserves”.

GRA: First-class service requires more gardaí

The Garda Representative Association yesterday demanded the Government outline its recruitment plans for the next five years.

The association, representing rank and file members, said a government commitment on recruitment would help rejuvenate a force where numbers had fallen below a critical 13,000 mark.

The GRA said it had repeatedly warned reduced garda numbers are diminishing a policing service, demanded by the public.

A statement said: “It is now impossible to cover all the policing needs.”

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The GRA said there have been no new recruits replacing retirements in the frontline units for the past five years, and the 300 currently in training, will not be out of a probationary period until next year.

“Every garda has been working beyond optimum capacity, and despite their best efforts have not been able to replace retired colleagues,” the association said. “The numbers of gardaí are insufficient to provide the first class service the public deserves.”

The GRA recalled, in the run-up to the 2007 general election, there had been all-party support for 16,000 gardaí needed to police Ireland, but no independent study was carried out to establish the exact number required.

The association, in its own estimation, believes that to police everything from border control to counter espionage with all frontline policing, the numbers required would be closer to 18,000. It has asked why no expert reports have been complied to identify an optimum number.

The GRA maintains the real solution would be to recruit new gardaí every year independently of political expediency, and so avoid the situation of block retirements and ‘generation gaps’.

The Keating Report in 1996 recommended that between 400 and 600 gardaí be recruited yearly to maintain the force.

“Garda recruitment needs to be continual and consistent and should be enshrined in the constitution to prevent political interference,” the GRA statement said.

It said the government should match recruitment ahead of retirement levels, and steadily increase the force seamlessly.

“But we must note that opportunities have been missed and solutions ignored.

“The Garda Inspectorate could have included staffing levels into the basic assumptions underpinning its report into the structure of An Garda Síochána under the Haddington Road Agreement. As far as we have been informed, this has not happened,” the GRA said.

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