Current Garda strength will now continue to diminish, until at least the summer of 2015, because of a failure to financially approve the first batch of Garda recruits to Templemore, since the moratorium on recruitment was introduced by the then Government five years ago in 2009.
In early December 2013, former Minister for Justice Allan Shatter and Tipperary TD Noel Coonan had given a commitment, both promising that an initial fresh intake of recruits, on a rolling basis, would enter the gates of the Garda College in Templemore, by the end of this month.
This deadline will not now be met as the resumption of recruitment has not, to date at least, been financially approved. The aim of the Government had been to maintain the force’s strength at 13,000, a figure which had been described as “bottom line” by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, latter who was forced to resign earlier this year.
It had been promised that the initial 100 successful recruits, later chosen from some 25,000 applications, would be joined by two similar batches to be introduced at three-monthly intervals between now and early in 2015. These new successful recruits were informed that they would be given time to deliver one month’s notice to all current employers, which means that if financial approval was granted this week no new recruits would be in place before September 2014 at the very earliest.
Garda strength has already shrunk to around 12,930 and will fall significantly more before fully qualified recruits are on the streets for the first time, as part of their overall two-year training and assessment programme.