Shatter plays down Garda cuts
He also pointed out that while 1,200 members of the force had 30 years served and so could retire at any time on full pension, between 350 and 400 of these were expected to retire this year. The majority of those entitled to retire were staying on because they enjoyed their jobs.
Meanwhile the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has called on cuts to be reversed.
AGSI general secretary John Redmond was "absolutely dismayed" that the Government would reduce the budget to "effectively mean an 11.11 per cent loss of the Garda organisation".
The 25 serious crime gangs in the State "must be absolutely delighted" with the "shortsighted" development, he said.
"If it was a case that the Garda Commissioner was agreeing with the Minister that this was a good way to go we might have accepted it," Mr Redmond said.
It was "very clear" that Mr Shatter was "imposing his will" on the Garda Commissioner, he said.
Mr Redmond said the support that the Garda has relied on from the community would "diminish very quickly" when people get fed up of the "patchwork policing" which may result from a denigration of numbers.
The Garda Representative Assocation (GRA) said it will ask the Garda Commissioner if he had "resources to effectively police" the State and if he had "sufficient funds to pay gardaí".
Should budget cuts reduce the number of gardai further "public safety has already been compromised", it said in a statement today.
"We are gravely concerned that our members have already been endangered," the association said.
GRA president John Parker said that payroll cuts were the "extra straw that breaks the camel’s back" where there "has been no bottom of the barrel to scrape".
Mr Parker said if the force was downsized to meet the Budget cuts it would mean the roster providing manpower at peak times was "in danger of collapsing".
A special meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice to clarify cuts to Garda numbers has been called for my Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins TD.
He expressed alarm at reports that numbers in the force could reduce by 1,400 this year.
While Mr Callinan had last year stressed the need to maintain the force at a minimum of 13,000, Mr Shatter "still went ahead and slashed the garda payroll", he said in a statement.
"The political decisions made by Alan Shatter will bring the garda force a decade back in time and put communities across the country directly at risk," Mr Collins added.
There were just over 13,400 members in the force at the end of December 2012, the Department of Justice said in a statement. It said the "average number" of retirements in recent years had been 400.
Last November Mr Callinan said he would not like to see levels drop very much below 13,000.