No Garda recruitment on horizon
The rate of Garda retirements is running well ahead of expectations but recruitment is unlikely to start again until 2014 at the earliest because a key end-of-year target under the terms of the EU-IMF bailout has been missed.
The number of members of the force was to have been cut to 13,000 by the end of 2012 but remains at 13,440.
Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter yesterday pointed out that under the terms of the EU-IMF programme, Garda numbers must fall to “at least” 13,000.
He said it was possible numbers might fall below that level and he could give no assurances on when Garda recruitment might start again.
“The last Garda graduation was in March-April 2011 so we still have a force of a relatively young age,” he told the Oireachtas Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.
Mr Shatter was responding to questions from Niall Collins TD (FF) who pointed out that Garda training took two years from the initial point of recruitment to graduation.
Numbers were being run down at the same time that Garda stations were closing. Communities were very worried and he urged Mr Shatter to begin Garda recruitment again next year.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said last week that he would not like to see Garda numbers fall below 13,000.
No recruitment drive
While unable yesterday to say definitively how many Garda members would retire next year, some of the figures set out by Mr Shatter suggested any new recruitment drive would not occur in the near future.
In the Garda budget for 2012, the commissioner had made provision for the payment of 375 retirement lump sums.
However, the year had seen 470 retirements, leaving a force of 13,440; far above the 13,000 target for 2012 in the bailout conditions.
Mr Shatter said the offer of more favourable pension arrangements for public servants who retired before the end of February had resulted in some Garda members retiring who otherwise would have stayed on.
There were 1,200 Garda members with 30 years of service who were entitled to retire, although there was no indication a significant number of these were about to retire, Mr Shatter said. However, sources said with 2012 having seen a spike in retirements, the rate of departures next year was likely to be slower.
“Everyone who was of a mind to go early is now probably gone,” said one source.
Numbers in force
It means that by the end of next year, numbers in the force will still not be down to 13,000 from their current level of 13,440.
With Mr Shatter pointing out that the force might be allowed to fall below 13,000 members, it would mean numbers had between 12 and 18 months, perhaps longer, to continue falling before the Government would be forced to step in and begin recruitment again.