Garda superintendents concerned about false allegations made against them

Association of Garda Superintendents to tell Minister for Justice that plans to increase force to 15,000 not enough

Government plans to increase the Garda force to 15,000 sworn members in the next 18 months are no longer enough to keep pace with policing demands in the Republic, superintendents believe. They were set to raise the matter on Wednesday with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee at their annual conference, in Naas, Co Kildare.

The Association of Garda Superintendents will also present research showing a sizeable number of its members reported being subjected to false anonymous allegations made against them, either through official complaints mechanisms or being subjected to defamatory claims made on social media. Almost half of the superintendents surveyed by the association reported being subjected to “false allegations that damaged their reputation” and a third said they were targeted by false allegations on social media.

The president of the association, Limerick-based Supt Seamus Nolan, is set to use his address to conference to echo the statement made last month by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris when he said the planned 15,000-strong Garda force will need to be expanded if current policing services are to be maintained.

Many Garda members have said while increased specialisation in the force — involving the creation of new or bigger units with specific expertise to investigate complex crimes — is welcome, it is drawing resources away from frontline policing on the streets. For example, Garda Divisional Protective Services Bureaus, which investigate sexual crimes and other offences with vulnerable victims, have been rolled out in Garda divisions across the Republic, which has been a significant pull on manpower.


The association will set out its concerns to Ms McEntee just 24 hours after the recruitment of 1,000 new Garda members was announced in Budget 2023. The Government four years ago announced an accelerated recruitment campaign to increase the number of sworn Garda members to a record 15,000.

However, recruitment was paused for a prolonged period during the Covid-19 pandemic when the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary was closed. It means the 1,000 recruits to be taken into the college next year, while a figure between 200 and 400 higher than some recent years, will only help to regain some of the ground lost during the pandemic, rather than deliver any additional increase in the force.

The superintendents also say their subsistence and travel allowances were reduced during the years of austerity and believe they should be reinstated in line with other members of the public service. They are set to tell Ms McEntee the spike in the cost of fuel and other items has brought added urgency to the need to address cuts put in place well over a decade ago.

The conference will also hear concerns that many members of the Garda are being forced to work in substandard conditions, often in buildings that are hundreds of years old. They are also concerned there is a lack of consistency in the criteria required for promotion, which is demoralising superintendents across the country.

Some superintendents who were successful in promotions competitions were placed on lists to be promoted, though these expired before the promotions occurred. When they applied again under the next promotions process the criteria had changed and they were sometimes not successful again.

Ms McEntee was due to address superintendents at the conference on Wednesday morning while Mr Harris was set to speak in the afternoon.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times