Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Ceisteanna – Questions. Priority Questions. - Garda Recruitment.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 174 Next Page Last Page

 3. Mr. Rabbitte Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the number of the 2,000 additional gardaí promised in the Agreed Programme for Government who have been recruited to date; the timetable for the recruitment of the additional numbers; if it is intended to expand the capacity of the Garda Training College to deal with the extra number of recruits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18613/02]

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Deputy will be aware that the Agreed Programme for Government contains a commitment to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána by a further 2,000. My Department wrote to the Garda authorities and requested them to identify the key issues which arise in the context of the implementation of that commitment. The Garda Síochána has responded to my Department in the matter and I am now examining the detailed planning and logistical issues involved. As soon as I have finalised my consideration of those issues I will bring the matter to Government in the usual way.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte This must be a more difficult question that I anticipated. How many of the 2,000 have been recruited this year? How many will have been recruited by 30 December 2002? How many will be recruited next year?

[1101]Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Garda strength for the year ending 1997 was 10,968 and had risen to 11,815 in 2001.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte It is now 2002.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I know that. It is not a question of identifying the 2,000. The Deputy will appreciate that I have to increase the capacity of the induction and training system in an Garda Síochána to deal with the matter.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Did I ask anything that the Minister does not understand? How many gardaí have been recruited this year and how many will be recruited next year?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell A Garda recruitment competition is under way and 117 new trainees will commence their course in Templemore in November. They will be attested in 2004 when they complete the first three phases of their training.

The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot increase the induction in Templemore until I have obtained sanction from the Department of Finance for an increased rate of recruitment and put in place procedures to accommodate the additional training facilities.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Does the Minister agree that the people whose communities are besieged by crime are not that concerned about him learning about induction difficulties? Did these induction difficulties not exist when the programme for Government was agreed, stating the Garda Síochána would be expanded by a further 2,000? Did the Minister's predecessor not advise him of the induction difficulties at that stage? Was he not aware of the conviction in the Garda when they said that it would take 11 years to recruit 2,000 gardaí at the present capacity of Templemore? Was this commitment to 2,000 additional gardaí not another piece of deception at election time that neither party believed would be delivered and that the Minister is now obviously not going to deliver?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Garda training college at Templemore currently accepts between 500 and 550 trainees per annum and has a maximum capacity of 650 trainees per annum. In order to achieve the increase in the size of the force, taking into account wastage through resignations and retirements, approximately 4,300 trainees will have to be inducted in the five years between 2003 and 2007. If one divides that one will find that it is in excess of 800 per annum. In order to meet the target the capacity of Templemore will have to be increased from 2003-07, inclusive, to 830-840 places. I am studying that now. The commitment in the programme for Government is that will be achieved over those five years.

[1102]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Now that the Estimates between the Minister's Department and the Department of Finance have been concluded, can the Minister tell the House if he has a hope in hell of delivering 850 gardaí next year?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell As the Deputy well knows, the Estimates are a matter for negotiation between now and the framing of the budget. I am not going to comment on that now. For the programme of Government to be complied with, the number of gardaí recruited and trained will have to increase from 550 to the low 800s, which surpasses the current physical limitation of 650 at the training college.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Did the training college only come into existence since the Government was elected? I know exactly what the figures are and what one gets if they are divided by five. I am trying to establish if these gardaí are going to be recruited this year and next year.

 4. Mr. Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  his plans to raise the retirement age for gardaí, Garda sergeants and inspectors from 57 years to 60 years; the steps he is taking to stem the rapidly increasing rate of retirement throughout the Garda ranks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18610/02]

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am looking at the question of retirement ages for all ranks in an Garda Síochána. All ranks within an Garda Síochána up to chief superintendent are eligible for a pension if they have a minimum 30 years service and have reached the age of 50 years. Ranks up to and including inspector must retire at 57 years of age, while superintendents and chief superintendents must retire at 60 years, as must those of commissioner rank appointed after 1996. Assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners appointed before 1996 must retire at 65 years of age. The age differential was established some time ago and recognises that there are greater physical demands on gardaí in front-line operational policing roles.

The Commission on Public Service Pensions has recommended that the minimum retirement age for new entrants to an Garda Síochána should be raised from 50 to 55 and members should have the option of being retained to a maximum of 60 rather than 57, subject to meeting minimum health and fitness standards. Although retirement rates fluctuate, it does appear there will be an increase in the number of gardaí retiring in 2002. At this stage, the estimate is that 335 gardaí will retire in 2002 compared to 283 in 2001. The exposure to retirements from the Garda Síochána will be increasing over the next few years reflecting the expansion in the size of the force in the 1970s.

[1103]Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy The Minister said a commitment was given on Garda numbers and then said it was a matter for the Estimates. Which is correct? I am very concerned about the rate of retirement within the Garda and I do not think that we will have 14,000 gardaí by 2007. There are 30 assaults daily in this country, many of them drink-related. The Government liberalised our licensing laws. Does the Minister think this should be given greater priority? The Minister told us that the increase in the number of gardaí between 1997 and 2001 was just 1,000. When one considers the level of violence on the streets it becomes apparent that the Government has not made much of a response.

Is the Minister giving us a firm commitment of placing more gardaí on the streets? There was a public feud about six months ago between the Departments of Finance and Justice, Equality and Law Reform about the funding available for extra gardaí. Is the Minister saying there is still some ambiguity in that regard, or that the funding has been made available?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I think the Deputy is asking supplementary questions to Deputy Rabbitte's question rather than his own. There were 6,550 gardaí in 1970, 8,480 in 1975 and there is now just short of 12,000. There has been a gradual increase in the membership of an Garda Síochána over that period. In order to reach the target of an extra 2,000 gardaí, in addition to retirements and resignations, it will be necessary to increase the intake in Templemore from 550 to the low 800s. That is the implication of the commitment in the programme for Government. My instructions are to implement the programme for Government and I do that within the resources available to me.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy Considering the level of violent crime in this country, does the Minister believe there are adequate numbers of gardaí on our streets?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell As the Deputy will also be aware, in an entirely separate exercise – I do not wish to confuse the two – a strategic management initiative process is under way at present within the Garda Síochána with a view to deploying the resources of the force in the most efficient way. There are plans to civilianise many functions in order to remove more gardaí from behind counters and desks, get them away from duties which can be carried out by others and get them on to the streets.

Operation Encounter, a major initiative during the past year, has contributed significantly to countering violence in the streets. I am also putting in place other measures. The House will be aware that I am piloting through – I hope to have the co-operation of the Opposition in [1104] facilitating its speedy passage – the Public Order Bill which deals with street violence and locations of trouble. On a multifaceted basis, across a number fronts, the serious scourge of street violence to which the Deputy correctly referred will be countered. It will not be easy, however, because there are no magical solutions and it would be naive to suggest otherwise.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy The Minister referred to a number of extremely innovative planned policy changes with regard to superpubs, etc. However, he is missing the point. I inquired about the number of gardaí and he did not answer my question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon We are running out of time.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy I asked if he thought there are enough gardaí on the streets and, frankly, there are not. That is the nub of the issue.


Last Updated: 14/03/2015 05:34:13 First Page Previous Page Page of 174 Next Page Last Page