As the Deputy will 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 including 15,000 Garda members, and 4,000 Garda Staff (civilians). 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 Garda Staff, where necessary.
I am informed by An Garda Siochána that as at the end of 2018, almost 260 Gardaí have been reassigned to operational duties. I am pleased that this is an additional 260 Gardaí on the front-line over and above those being recruited under the Government's accelerated recruitment programme. The Garda Work Force Modernisation Team established by An Garda Síochána is continuing to drive momentum on civilianisation including in relation to redeployment and the Commissioner expects to make significant progress on this objective this year. The project team has identified the challenges around redeployments and is working to resolve these issues. This includes ongoing engagement with key stakeholders including Garda Associations and Trade Unions.
This programme of civilianisation is very much in line with the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland which recommends the return of Gardaí to the front line to deliver visible policing. This is evidenced in the High Level Implementation Plan - A Policing Service for the Future - which I published before Christmas which prioritises the twin issues of redeployment and civilianisation.