By Noel Dundon
The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, has this week revealed that the Garda Training College in Templemore could be used as the base for the Irish Olympic team as they prepare for the London Olympics in 2012.
Furthermore, investigations are underway into the possibility of the College engaging in the training of recruits from other countries, considering it’s internationally renowned reputation as one of the best academies in the world.
Minister Shatter was in Templemore for a Garda Graduation Ceremony - the last such event for the forseeable future - when he expressed disappointment that the word ‘closure’ was being used in relation to the facility. “The College is here to stay and has an important role to play in the life of An Garda Siochana. The College will remain open and will continue to work in many areas - a lot of people don’t realise that the recruitment element is only one of five schools in operation. There will be no new recruits in 2011 and early 2012 but there will be a facility for additional training for other elements of the Force. I cannot give a definitive answer as to when we will actually recommence the recruitment process, but I am hoping for between 12-18 months time,” Minister Shatter told Mayor Joe Bourke and the elected members.
Under the “unrealistic arrangement entered into with the” EU IMF bailout deal, the strength of An Garda Siochana must be reduced to 13,000 by 2014 - it is currently at 14,300, and until such time as this is achieved, no recruitment can be undertaken, according to the Minister.
Recruitment has been frozen since 2009 and the Minister did commit to recommencing the process earlier than expected, should it arise that the Force’s strength reaches the 13,000 mark ahead of schedule, due to increased retirements or natural wastage.
“I am very concerned about the importance of the College and how it benefits the local community as well as the country. It is one of the best garda training facilities in the world and I hold great affection for the place. I have held preliminary discussions with the Commissioner and the Head of the College with the view to perhaps providing training for other countries here. It would mean funding coming in to us and also that important relationships could be developed,” said the Minister who also confirmed to Cllr Michael Ryan that Sports Council Chief Executive Officer, former Olympic silver medalist John Treacy had visited Templemore recently to check out facilities. “I do not wish to mislead anyone - these two initiatives are at a very early and tentative stage and nothing might come from either of them, but there is no harm in flagging them with you at the same time,” he said.
Cllrs Lily O’Brien, Martin Fogarty, Marcus Wilson and Maura Byrne all addressed the Minister and raised various concerns with him, while Deputy Noel Coonan made representations in relation to Templemore Garda Station and the possibility of getting additional patrol cars for the divisional headquarters.
Minister Shatter also expressed disappointment at comments made by RTE in relation to the 250 acre site purchased by the OPW for an additional training facility for the Garda Training College. “They came down here and filmed the place, but didn’t even get the right field,” he said.
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