As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has responsibility to manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members.
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 Garda Commissioner has informed me that he intends to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 along with a net 600 Garda staff. The recruitment of these additional Garda staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 Gardaí, from administrative duties to the frontline policing duties for which they were trained, in 2019.
An Garda Siochana have indicated that approximately 300 Gardaí are expected to retire in 2019, which is in line with retirement trends over the past four years. Clearly this figure is an estimate. I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the recruitment of Garda members and Garda staff planned for 2019 will ensure that, taking account of projected retirements, the Government's commitment to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 Garda staff by 2021 will be achieved. The number of Garda members in An Garda Siochana increased to just over 14,000 at the end of 2018, a net increase of over 1,000 since the end of 2016. The Commissioner's plans for the redeployment of Gardaí to frontline policing in 2019 will result in a net additional 1,100 Gardaí deployed to operational policing by the end of 2019.
This approach to recruitment and redeployment 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 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, workforce planning and redeployment are some of the key projects which will continue to be progressed over the lifetime of this reform programme.