Government to hire 600 gardaí next year with extra €67m funding

Rise in burglaries and rural crime over past year increased long-term pressure to recruit

 

The Government has committed the State to hiring 600 new gardaí next year, slightly more than had been envisaged before the publication of the budget.

The addition of the new members comes after 550 recruits were taken into the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, since September of last year.

Next year’s plan represents the highest level of Garda recruitment since the college was mothballed when the public service recruitment moratorium was applied to the force in 2009.

Long-term pressure Numbers peaked shortly after at more than 14,500 but fell to 12,800 before the first new classes entered the college last year.

The Government had been under long-term pressure to increase recruitment because of a rise in some crimes, such as burglary, despite decreases in the total level of recorded crime.

The issue of rural crime has also become a political issue in the past 12 months as the general election approaches in the spring.

The shooting dead of Garda Tony Golden in a murder-suicide attack near Omeath, Co Louth, on Sunday evening has been greeted with shock and thrust the issue of resources across the force into the centre of public discourse once again.

Overall, the Justice vote in the budget of €2.264 billion for current expenditure is €89 million higher than last year, with €130 million also provided for capital expenditure.

Total funding for the Garda is €1.5 billion, some €67 million higher than the allocation for this year. Commitment Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the Government had honoured its commitment to reopen the Garda College.

She added that the additional funding now being committed for recruitment meant the facility would not close again.

“The past 48 hours have been a dark period for An Garda Síochána and highlights the dangerous work that the men and women of the force carry out every day in the service of their communities and their country,” she said.

“This budget allocation will ensure that gardaí have the necessary tools and manpower to tackle the scourge of highly-mobile criminal gangs and to seek to disrupt crime, particularly burglaries, across both rural and urban communities.” Shortcomings Ms Fitzgerald also said the higher Garda budget would enable the force to hire “civilian expects” in information and communications technology (ICT).

Shortcomings in this area had been strongly criticised by a Garda Inspectorate report on how the force investigates crime.

Some €205 million has been allocated for the purchase of ICT infrastructure.

Elsewhere, some €2.7 million has been allocated to fund the establishment of the new Policing Authority, the legislation for which is currently being passed through the Dáil.

The Irish Prison Service has been allocated €332 million, an increase of €6.4 million on 2015. Ms Fitzgerald said the additional monies would be used for, among other measures, reducing the flow of drugs and contraband in the Republic’s jails.