Deputy Michael Lowry has called for a clear and unequivocal promise and realistic timeline from the Government detailing their intentions with regards to Garda recruitment going forward.
The Independent TD welcomed the comments made by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald this Monday on a visit to Templemore, where she indicated that there would be “seamless ongoing recruitment”, but expressed concern that these promises were made previously by the Government and were followed by unnecessary and infuriating heel-dragging and ended up in a watered down recruitment.
Deputy Lowry stated: “We need more Gardaí on the streets and we need them now. People across Tipperary are being terrorised by burglars and are living in fear. Those fighting to make a living are being targeted repeatedly and rural crime rates have rocketed.
“Our Gardaí are doing their best in exceptionally difficult circumstances but the reality is that over 200 Gardaí are expected to retire this year. There are also very real concerns within the force that upwards of 300 of the most experienced senior Gardaí will be forced to retire in 2015 to escape the punitive slashing of public sector pension payments being advanced by Minister Howlin.
“We must remember that in December 2013, the then Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter stated that 300 Gardaí would be recruited by the end of this year. This is now just another broken promise by the Government to add to the ever increasing list. As we now know the reality has been very different with drastically paired back numbers.
“Lukewarm statements and empty words about giving further information on recruitment later in the year is of little use. The Minister must commit to, at a very minimum, taking on the 200 further recruits promised by the Government. I am calling on her to make her intentions clear and to commit to a date by which the next recruits will be in Templemore.”
Minister Fitzgerald was welcomed to Templemore by local Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan, who said: “It has been a very important week for Templemore Town with the return of Garda students after five years. Minister Fitzgerald recognises the importance of the recommencement of recruitment to Templemore town. The intake of students is of immense benefit to the local economy.
“Minister Fitzgerald also recognises and appreciates the trojan work done by management and staff at the college over the past years who have kept the establishment vibrant with various training courses,” continued Deputy Coonan.
Speaking at the Garda ceremony, Minister Fitzgerald said: “It is important to say that today is not just a significant occasion for you as new recruits. Today also represents a significant step for An Garda Síochána as a whole, for Templemore and for Irish society in general.
The recent years of fiscal correction have seen our public services constrained. Today, your recruitment marks a very public expression of how the tide has turned. In addition, recent months have seen a negative focus placed on the administration and oversight of policing in this state. Today, your recruitment marks a positive step forward for policing in Ireland.
“As Minister, I am committed to putting in place, and where necessary reforming, the organisation, structures, practices and systems to support the men and women of An Garda Síochána to effectively deliver the best possible policing and security services for our communities and our country,” she said.