Written Answers. - Garda Recruitment.

Joe Costello

Question:

382 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will drop the ban on people over 26 joining the Garda and the ban on people over 57 remaining in the force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10936/03]

The Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 1988, as amended, govern entry to the Garda Síochána and provide that applicants generally must be at least 18 and under 26 years on the first day of the month that the competition is advertised – the regulations provide for some extension to the upper age limit for applicants with certain specified service in the Defence Forces.

Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 provides,inter alia, that those parts of the Act relating to discrimination on the age ground do not apply to employment in the Garda Síochána.

On 27 November 2000, Council Directive 2000/78/EC was adopted establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. The implementation of the directive will have implications for the age provision of the Employment Equality Act 1998. My Department is currently formulating legislative proposals to implement the Council directive and any implications for admission to the Garda Síochána will be considered in that context.
In relation to retirement age for members of the Garda Síochána, members of ranks up to and including Inspector must retire at 57 years of age. Superintendents and Chief Superintendents must retire at 60 years of age 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 the Garda Síochána should be raised from 50 to 55 and that members should have the option of being retained to a maximum age of 60 rather than 57, subject to meeting minimum health and fitness standards.
My objective is to have a fit, active and experienced force with an appropriate balance as regards the age profile and I am reviewing the retirement ages applicable to the Garda Síochána with this aim in mind.