Garda numbers decline despite resumption of recruitment

Representative association brands figures ‘perturbing and disheartening’

Graduating members of the Garda  in Templemore. File photograph: Alan Betson

Graduating members of the Garda in Templemore. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Garda numbers are still in decline as retirements and other departures far exceeded the level of recruitment over the past two years.

There was a public perception, fuelled by Government announcements, that Garda numbers were increasing again after recruitment was recommenced in 2014 for the first time since 2009.

However, new figures reveal 762 Garda members departed the force or began three-year career breaks in 2014 and 2015. In that period, 550 recruits were taken into the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary – a net loss of 112 members.

The Garda Representative Association, which represents more than 10,000 rank-and-file gardaí in a force that has fallen below 13,000, described the figures as “perturbing and disheartening”.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors described the Government’s recent claims around recruitment as “fanfare announcements”.

During 2014, 81 Garda members began three-year career breaks under the incentivised career break scheme. During the same year, 249 Garda members retired and 42 departed for other reasons, including resignations and medical discharges. This resulted in a loss of 372 sworn officers in 2014, when 200 recruits were taken into Templemore.

Last year, at least 239 members retired and 41 departed for other reasons, while 110 began three-year career breaks, a loss of 390 personnel at a time when 350 recruits entered Templemore.

Figures for retirements and departures in 2015 were available only to December 18th, meaning the final numbers will be slightly higher when information for the full year becomes available.