As the Deputy will be appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has responsibility to carry on and manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochana, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members and staff.
The Deputy will be aware that the Government's vision is for a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 to include 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 Garda Staff. The projected 4,000 Garda Staff represents a medium-term target of 20% of the Garda full-time workforce comprised of civilians. This target will be achieved through a twin-track approach of firstly, a “civilian by default” policy in relation to the filling of all new posts other than operational policing posts and for non-operational policing posts that become vacant and, secondly, the redeployment of Gardaí to policing roles where their skills can be used to best effect, with the backfilling of these roles by suitably qualified civilians, where necessary.
Progress is being made in relation to civilianisation. As of 31 December 2018, there were approximately 2430 Garda staff undertaking a range of administrative and technical duties in An Garda Síochána.
The Government has increased the budget for An Garda Síochána to €1.76 billion for 2019, which included provision for the recruitment of up to 800 Gardaí this year. The Commissioner has informed me that he intends to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí along with a net 600 Garda Staff. The recruitment of these additional Garda Staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy this year a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to the frontline policing duties for which they were trained.
This is very much in line with the Report of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland which recommended the return of Gardaí to the front line to deliver visible policing. The Deputy will be aware that on 18 December 2018 I also published a four year high level plan, ‘A Policing Service for the Future’, which sets out the approach to implementation of the Commission's recommendations. Civilianisation is one of the key projects which will continue to be progressed over the lifetime of this reform programme.