Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan has said acceleration in recruitment within An Garda Síochana will go some way towards bringing the strength of the force to acceptable international standards.

In line with the Confidence and Supply arrangement entered into with Fine Gael in May 2016, today’s Budget 2019 will provide for the recruitment of 800 additional members of An Garda Síochana.

“Fine Gael’s decision during the last Government to force the closure of 139 Garda Stations nationwide combined with the decrease in Garda numbers, has left a lasting impact on communities,” he commented.

“Pushing for sustained Garda recruitment to make strides towards ensuring the force is supported by the necessary personnel was a central element of ultimately reaching a Confidence and Supply arrangement.

“Throughout negotiations following the last General Election, our party were firm in our demand for an increase in the strength and number of Gardaí in this country. The commitment was to reach 15,000 by 2021.

“As a result of our influence on the past three Budgets, including todays, this target is on course to be realised.

Deputy O’Callaghan added, ““Delivering a more visible police force to protect the safety of our citizens requires more Gardaí on the beat and on our streets but the recruitment of trainees alone will not suffice.

“Civilian personnel and reservists are key components in ensuring that An Garda Síochána reaches its full potential.

“Today’s announcement is something but the poor strength of the Garda Reserve and the fact that numbers continue to *reduce, still must be properly addressed. There was also a commitment made during last year’s Budget to recruit 500 civilian staff that the Government have failed to follow through on.

“Despite some very successful work in recent times, significant challenges remain in the effective policing of our country. The best possible chance of achieving better policing outcomes is by securing an appropriate level of staffing.”