Remove the upper age limit of 35 for new garda applicants - O'Callaghan

Published on: 08 March 2023

Remove the upper age limit of 35 for new garda applicants - O'Callaghan
Watch Deputy O'Callaghan take the fitness test here
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Bay South, Jim O'Callaghan, has said the upper age limit of 35 for new Garda recruits must be reviewed as a matter of urgency. 
The Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Justice said, "Fianna Fáil in Government is determined to build stronger and safer communities. We recognise the devastating impact crime has on both individuals and the wider communities. This was demonstrated by the unprecedented allocation provided in Budget 2023 of €2.14 billion to An Garda Síochána for the recruitment of an additional 1,000 officers.
"Unfortunately, there is a law and order problem in our cities and rural towns. This can only be adequately confronted by Gardaí on the ground. High visibility policing can't and won't be met if we fail to tackle the recruitment crisis that An Garda Síochána are experiencing.''
The Fianna Fáil TD recently took on the challenge of completing the Garda fitness test with the help of personal trainer Paul Byrne and passed. O'Callaghan said the upper age limit of 35 should be reconsidered without delay. He described implementing such an age cap as 'arbitrary' especially considering the recruitment crisis we find ourselves in. 
"Many people who have sedentary careers would be interested in joining the Gardaí but for some reason they don’t give consideration to it in their early 20s. However, people in their 30s looking for a career change should be targeted. We are missing out on potentially a huge cohort of people who could bring practical experience to the force.
"It's an issue I raised in the Dáil today with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. In his response the Taoiseach referenced a recent Labour Court ruling which found that the current Garda age limit of 35 for new job applicants is discriminatory on the grounds of age and said that we may see a change to that policy, which I would welcome.''
Deputy O'Callaghan continued by saying, "Over recent weeks and months,  I have raised a number of possible solutions to address our recruitment issues. I still believe the that the pre-entry fitness test is too demanding for many, out of step with other jurisdictions and is becoming a growing factor blocking recruitment. I appreciate that a basic level of fitness is a pre-requisite for a Garda but I am of the opinion that the current test may be disqualifying those who have difficulty completing a strenuous obstacle course.
"A more sensible approach, in my view, would be to design the test to ascertain the candidate’s current level of fitness and an intensive programme be tailored accordingly on admission, should the recruit exhibit a baseline level of fitness."
Owner of BodyByrne, Paul Byrne said, "I'm over 30 years in this business and I'm of the belief that the fitness test in its current format is outdated and in need of major modernising. 
"It doesn't take into account the various body types and strengths and may not offer a true reflection of a person's overall fitness capabilities. For example, I feel the test is more tailored towards a marathon runner than a rugby player and I would love to see more of an emphasis placed on strength fitness and mobility.''
Deputy O'Callaghan concluded by saying, "The Gardaí protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Without them, we have chaos. Every effort should be made by the Minister for Justice, Simon Harris, to resolve this recruitment crisis without further delay.''

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