Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has raised concerns about the projected drop in garda numbers over the next two years.

Answering questions from Deputy Collins at the Oireachtas Justice Committee today, the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan confirmed that an additional 1,200 gardaí will be eligible for retirement over the next two years. 

Deputy Collins says this has the potential to leave major gaps in the garda force at a critical time for policing.

“The garda force is already stretched beyond capacity and the potential loss of another 1,200 gardaí while the ban on recruitment remains in place is a cause of real concern,” said Deputy Collins.

“The Commissioner has confirmed that there are currently 13,472 gardaí in place and that the Government wants to reduce this to 13,000.  If a further 1,200 gardaí retire over the next two years, garda numbers will plummet to at least 12,227.  Even if the Minister for Justice lifts the ban on recruitment in the gardaí immediately, it will take at least two years to train the new recruits.  In the meantime, major gaps will appear in the force at all levels.

“This is happening at a critical time for policing in the State.  Minister Shatter is shutting down and downgrading dozens of local garda stations across the country, and telling communities not to worry because the manpower will remain in place to ensure this doesn’t put people at further risk. But how can Minister Shatter guarantee a strong garda presence in all communities while he shuts down stations and allows a situation where garda numbers could fall below levels that the Garda Commissioner feels is safe?

“Once again I am calling on Minister Shatter to lift the ban on recruitment in the gardaí and re-open the garda training college at Templemore next year.  We need to start training new recruits now so that they are ready to take up the hundreds of posts that will be left vacant due to retirement in the coming years.”