The Garda Commissioner is responsible for carrying on and managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,800 Garda recruits have attested and been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. Another 200 Garda recruits are due to attest before the end of this year.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that of those recruits who have attested since 1 January 2014, 71 are no longer serving in the organisation. This figure includes the untimely deaths of two Garda members.
As the Deputy will be aware, this Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 including 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal. I am pleased to say that Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 14,032 at the end of 2018 - a net increase of over 1,200 since the end of 2014. Further, the Garda Commissioner’s decision to recruit a net 600 Garda staff in 2019 will allow for the redeployment of approximately 500 experienced Gardaí to frontline and visible policing duties by the end of this year.
The unprecedented funding of €1.882 billion provided to An Garda Síochána in Budget 2020 will allow for the recruitment of up to 700 new Gardaí and additional Garda staff next year. The appropriate balance between Gardaí and Garda staff will be for the Garda Commissioner to determine, on the basis of operational need. The ongoing recruitment will provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí to deliver a visible, effective and responsive policing service nationwide.