New figures released to Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan show that the number of Garda reservists has fallen by more than a quarter in two years.
From 1,179 reservists at the end of May 2014 there were just 870 in the force two years later. The biggest drop was in Galway where reservist numbers fell by 45%. Just one Garda division, Sligo-Leitrim, recorded an increase.
“These figures are deeply alarming and must be acted upon urgently. Concerns have been expressed for some time that we are not maximising the potential of the Garda reserve. This will be a much bigger challenge if the numbers are diminishing”, explained Deputy O’Callaghan.
“The Garda Inspectorate report Changing Policing in Ireland, published just before Christmas, pointed out that despite receiving considerable training, reserves are not consistently or strategically utilised for operational purposes. Furthermore, the Inspectorate said there was no identified champion for the reserve programme within the Gardaí. It’s obvious now that with after such a big drop in numbers over two years, such a champion is even more important.
“It’s possible that the Gardaí are in denial about this problem. The Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021, published last month, pledged to ‘continue to build and expand the Garda reserve’, an extraordinary statement after two years of falling numbers. The section on the reserve comprised just four sentences, or 113 words, in a 120 document.
“The Inspectorate report also pointed out that Garda Reserve ‘recruiting is … currently passive’ and that there ‘is room to develop a more strategic and dynamic process for recruiting Garda Reserve members’. This is truer now than it was six months ago. It must be acted on”