Shatter denies cut in Garda numbers
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said there is “no reality or possibility” that Garda numbers will be cut by between 1,000 and 1,500 by the end of the year.
Mr Shatter said retirements this year would reach between 350 and 400, which would bring Garda numbers down close to 13,000.
Plans were currently being considered to offer an incentivised career break to serving gardaí, which would involve members being paid up to €30,000 to take a career break of three years.
However, the take-up of that scheme was not expected to be significant and he did not believe it would “run into hundreds”.
And, while plans were also under way for gardaí to be seconded into the Department of Social Protection and Revenue to help with investigations, he believed these schemes would result in the transfer of a mere 20 or 30 members.
He believed retirements, added to secondments and career breaks, would see Garda numbers fall no lower than 13,000 by the end of the year.
Mr Shatter was responding to reports that the force was to be reduced to 12,000 this year because of cuts to funds available to pay salaries. He said the budget for 2013 had been clearly set out in the estimates published last month, adding that nothing had changed since then.
He denied suggestions the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and his senior officers had been “ambushed” by the budget reductions.
The Garda budget for salaries, wages and allowances for 2013 is €956.4 million, down 4 per cent on 2012. This is half the reduction of 8 per cent between 2011 and last year. Of this year’s cut of €42.8 million, €26 million relates to salaries.
Some 470 gardaí retired last year and there was no recruitment, a factor that lowers salary payments for 2013. Mr Shatter said savings of a further €10 million were being sought in the current year from allowances.
Despite the denials that numbers were to be significantly reduced, Garda representative bodies have reacted strongly to the idea of cutting the force any further.
Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors general secretary John Redmond was “absolutely dismayed” that the Government would cut the Garda budget.
The 25 serious crime gangs in the State “must be absolutely delighted” with the “short-sighted” development, he said.
Garda Representative Association president John Parker said payroll cuts were the “extra straw that breaks the camel’s back”.