Frances Fitzgerald pledges at least 500 more gardaí in 2016

Minister plays down AGSI suggestion that Garda station closures led to rise in rural crime

At least 500 new gardaí will be recruited next year, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said.

However, she played down suggestions by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) that the closure of Garda stations in recent years had led to an increase in rural crime.

“I believe [it was a] mistake by the last government when it led us into a state of such financial turmoil that Garda recruitment was stopped,” she said. “And investment in Garda vehicles was stopped and the numbers of gardaí doing overtime were reduced substantially. That, in my opinion, is what has led to the current situation in regard to rural stations.”

However, Ms Fitzgerald insisted the closure of the stations during the last government and under the term of the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition, had freed up enough money to pay for 61,000 additional man hours for the Garda.


“That is to do the kind of work that’s needed in rural areas,” she said.

Rising crime

She made her comments at a passing out ceremony for 94 new gardaí at the Garda College,


, Co



AGSI deputy general secretary John Jacob said the Government was currently preparing its budget for 2016 and urged them to invest more in policing.

His organisation had been “inundated” by people concerned about rising crime, especially in rural areas which he directly linked to the closure of many stations.

"The Central Statistics Office figures released this summer show that there were 420 crimes a month reported on farms throughout the country in the first half of 2014," Mr Jacob said.

“We all know that the fear of crime is always greater than the actual statistics, but we have a duty to ensure people feel safe in their homes, communities and in their place of work.”

Ms Fitzgerald said the 94 new gardaí now leaving Templemore brought to 300 the number of new personnel dispatched to stations nationwide in the past year.

There were 250 additional personnel in training, with “at least 500” to follow next year. She also said the Government was investing €27 million in the Garda fleet.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times