The administration and management of An Garda Síochána is by law a matter for the Garda Commissioner. This includes responsibilities for matters including recruitment and training of members. These are not matters for which I am responsible as Minister.
As the Deputy will appreciate and in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions, public access to the Garda College has been prohibited since 12 March 2020. At that time, over 300 Garda trainees attested earlier than scheduled and sworn members of Garda College staff were deployed to operational duties in order to enhance Garda capacity to respond to the pandemic.
In terms of current position, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that arrangements have now been made to permit further intakes of Garda recruits, despite the current situation.
I am informed that approximately 150 new recruits are undergoing training under a revised delivery method, in light of the current circumstances. The first batch of approximately 75 commenced training on 25 May, and the second batch of 75 recruits commenced training on 22 June.
I am advised that first intake are due to complete Phase I of their training at the Garda College on Friday 27 November 2020, following which it is anticipated that they will commence work in their new stations on Monday 30 November 2020. The second intake are due to complete Phase I of their training at the Garda College on Friday 22 January 2021, following which it is anticipated that they will commence work in their new stations on Monday 25 January 2021.
I understand that training consists of:
- 3 weeks on-line distance learning;
- 1 week residential at the Garda College;
- Weeks 5-16 assisting operational policing in allocated training stations in home divisions;-Weeks 17-32 residential at the Garda College and attestation (all other things being equal).
I am further informed that the Garda College has put in place strict contingencies for the period during which recruits will attend the college and strict social distancing will be enforced for the duration.