Shatter shelves Garda hiring plan due to Croke Park rebuff
Garda Commissioner concerned police numbers will fall below 13,000 threshold
Minister Alan Shatter: “I am very anxious to ensure we do retain 13,000 in An Garda Síochána.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the rejection of the Croke Park II deal meant he could not progress his plans to recommence Garda recruitment.
He had said a number of times in recent months that he intended to bring plans to Cabinet to recommence recruitment to ensure numbers did not fall below 13,000.
Sanction the funds
However, he told
the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents in Co Kildare yesterday that without the savings of €300 million that would have been secured under a new Croke Park agreement, he could not expect Cabinet to sanction the funds needed to expand the force.
The issue of recruitment could be revisited when the savings shortfall was addressed, he said.
“There is an expenditure commitment involved with recruitment. I remain committed to it, I am very anxious to ensure that we do retain 13,000 in An Garda Síochána but also I have to ensure that we deal with it in a manner that’s financially feasible.”
He denied his change in stance amounted to a broken promise on Garda numbers that would annoy members of the force and the public.
“We are now in a different position. We are now in a position where the Government quite clearly has to reflect on the outcome of the vote that has taken place.”
Garda numbers reached in excess of 14,600 just after the economy collapsed. However, under the terms of the bailout, the troika stipulated that numbers must be reduced to at least 13,000 by the end of 2012. While that target was missed, numbers are now down to around 13,400 as members retire and no new recruits are hired.
It will take over a year from the time Garda posts are advertised until the new recruits have been trained and are taking up duty.
Because of this time factor, the Government must begin recruitment immediately if numbers are to be maintained at 13,000.
Yesterday, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan pointed out that he had said several times he would not like to see numbers fall below 13,000.
General secretary of the Association of Garda Superintendents Pat McCabe echoed the commissioner’s words.
He said recruitment must recommence quickly if numbers were not going to fall below 13,000 before any new members graduated.
He added that while trainee gardaí would be on the streets within 33 weeks of starting training, they would not be fully qualified for 18 months.
He said that his members were already engaged in a campaign to convince members of the public that the policing service had not been adversely affected in those areas where Garda stations had recently been closed.