Some 140 garda trainees and reserves have been attested today to support the policing of Covid-19 Level 5 restrictions.
71 new gardaí and 69 garda reserves will be used as part of the organisation’s response to maximise front-line capacity.
A statement revealed that the 71 newly sworn-in members of the force commenced their garda training in May 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These members have undertaken a blend of on-line learning, on-site learning in the Garda College, and experiential learning in training Garda stations.
“These 71 Garda trainees will now take on operational responsibilities.”
The new gardaí include 54 male and 17 female members and will be located across the country.
23 will be in the South, 17 in Dublin, 15 in the East and 16 in the Northwest.
The association representing frontline gardaí has welcomed the attestation but the staff body pointed out that the 71 newly sworn-in garda members had been performing frontline duties since last July and only received a “paltry” €184 per week, about 30% of the starting salary for a garda.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) expressed concern for another batch of 75 trainee gardaí whose training they said has been extended because of the closure of the Garda College in Templemore.
GRA president Frank Thornton said these student gardaí were now on a lower salary than they should be.
The 69 garda reserves have undergone training “to prepare them to contribute to front-line policing including public compliance with health guidelines and regulations”.
The statement went on to say: “In addition, a re-deployment of uniform personnel from administrative roles to front-line operational duties took place over the last week”.
Of the reserves 13 are being allocated to Dublin, 26 to the East, 18 to the South and 12 to the Northwest.
37 of the reserves are male while 32 are female.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that “a very important aspect of the work of An Garda Síochána throughout the pandemic has been day-to-day engagement with the most vulnerable.
“Often gardaí have been people’s only interaction or contact, their only support. The newly attested garda members and reserves will help support this work and that no one in need will feel as though they are dealing with this alone.
"Crime has continued during the pandemic, and the dedication and professionalism of gardaí has allowed us to maintain our operational pace over the past ten months. At all times, gardaí across the country have continued to focus on preventing and detecting criminality.”
Comm Harris said that members of the Gardaí “regularly face dangerous, uncertain situations in order to assist and protect the public”.
He said: “It takes true mettle to come forward at a critical period in the country’s fight against this virus and be prepared to give it all to protecting the public from the frontline.
"The 69 garda reserves have willingly committed their time to support the ongoing efforts to keep people safe and will form an integral part of our policing effort moving forward.
"The newly attested members and reserves will help ensure community policing, crime detection and prevention, as well as the policing of public health regulations are all efficiently conducted.”
Reacting,the GRA president said: “We welcome the attestation of these trainee gardaí who have been on frontline duties since July last year.
"Since entering Garda training, they have been paid the paltry sum of €184 per week which is about 30% of the starting salary for a Garda.”
Mr Thornton said that late last year the GRA secured a daily allowance of €21.86 to provide for the cost of travel and subsistence, but said that many of the members “still experienced huge financial hardship”, including loan repayments and mortgages.
“These members were due to be attested by now but the closure of the Garda College meant they did not complete their training," Mr Thornton said. "While we are pleased the members newly attested are now being treated fairly, there is another group of 75 trainees still in a difficult position.
“The extension of their training programme due to the closure of the College has put these trainees gardaí in severe financial difficulty because they were expecting to be on the higher probationer salary by now.”
He said the GRA had been told that there was no training plan for these members at the moment due to the skeleton service being provided in the Garda College.
“While we have no difficulty with the attestation of reservists, the precarious position of the 75 trainee gardaí still on 30% of starting salary should be the priority for An Garda Síochána. These members are only four weeks behind in their training compared to the newly attested members but could be waiting months before they get the salary they expected to be receiving.
“We are therefore calling on the Garda Commissioner to resolve the unfair treatment of these members by honouring An Garda Síochána’s contractual obligation to them as a matter of absolute urgency.”