The immediate re-opening of Templemore Garda Training College was called for in the Dáil by Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy. “We have had no new recruits since 2009,” he said. “No new gardaí have passed out since June 2011. Recruits need to be trained in Templemore if we are to fill the vacancies that are arising. During his speech, the Minister gave a clue when he spoke about the centralisation of Garda services, which is the nub of everything that is happening. We centralised medical cards and made a complete mess of it, then we centralised student grants and made a complete mess of that too. Such services, particularly Garda services, should be local and available to local communities.”
However, he said it must be remembered that it was Fianna Fáil who initiated the closure of Garda stations, started the reduction in Garda numbers and stopped the recruitment of trainees at Templemore training college. Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion seeking the reversal of the closure of garda stations, he said it was “a case of the kettle calling the pot black”.
“During the 2011 election campaign, the parties that comprise the current Government said they would overturn all of that,” he said. “They gave commitments to support the Garda, ensure the Garda college reopened, begin a proper recruitment campaign and ensure the force was fully resourced. They have reneged on all of those commitments. They have taken over the policies that were pursued by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in the last Government.”
The country has lost 1,200 gardaí in the last couple of years, he said. The number of personnel in the force has been reduced from 14,500 to 13,300.