Fianna Fáil has called for an expansion of the civilian recruitment programme within An Garda Síochána to free up gardaí for community duties.

According to Kildare North general election candidate, Cllr Frank O’Rourke, sustained cuts to garda resources have left many gardaí who should be on the beat stuck in garda stations filling out paper work.

Cllr O’Rourke explained, “The gardaí are currently overburdened with paperwork and administrative duties. Given the huge reduction in garda numbers over the past 5 years, it is a shame that our highly qualified gardaí are often stuck to their desks doing basic work that could be carried out by clerical staff.

“The reality is that gardaí in every community across the country are being expected to do a lot more with a lot less resources. We should be utilising their skills and training, by ensuring that they are out and about in the community preventing and investigating crime. It is a complete waste to have them stuck indoors stamping forms and answering the phone.

“I am calling on the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to consider posting civilian employees to garda stations to carry out basic clerical work and allow gardaí to get away from desk work. This could include answering phones and processing forms relating to motor tax, social welfare payments, electoral register changes and passport renewals. It would allow our highly trained gardaí to get out into the community and do the job that they were trained to do.

“It is crucial that these clerical staff would not be seen as a replacement for qualified gardaí. Rather, this system must be used in tandem with an accelerated garda recruitment process. Garda numbers have fallen to dangerously low levels. In my own county of Kildare, there is now just 1 garda for every 650 people. There is no doubt that the cuts to garda resources have had a direct impact on crime levels. We need more gardaí and we need a better system to ensure that our trained professionals are not wasted on basic paperwork.”