Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said the continued reduction in the number of members of the Garda Reserve severely limits its scope to support and assist the work of full-time Gardaí.

Information recently obtained by Fianna Fáil reveals that the number of Garda Reserves have fallen by over 50% since 2014 when it reached a peak of 1,179 reservists. In 2016, this number was cut by over a quarter to 756 and has since been hit by a further 35% reduction. The number of Garda members now stands at 569.

Commenting on the figures, Senator Clifford-Lee, “The Garda Reserve has an important function in assisting the work of the main police force in Ireland and interacting with local communities nationwide.

“The Reserve, which provides proactive citizens with a unique opportunity to make a contribution to society, has every potential to positively impact both rural and urban communities.

“A revitalised Garda Reserve could work in co-operation with the main force of Gardaí and would have the capacity to free up resources that should be re-directed towards meeting more urgent demands.

“Despite receiving considerable training, Reservists are inconsistently utilised for operational purposes. It is obvious now that such a continual decrease in numbers will mean this will likely remain the case.

“There is no doubt that in light of the repeated cuts to Garda resources across the country that there is room to adopt a more dynamic approach to attract and recruit members to the Garda Reserve.

“In 2016, we were told that plans were afoot to more than double the number of Garda Reserves nationally. This would bring the strength of the force up to 2,000.

“If this Government is serious about fulfilling its commitments then is the time to push a new recruitment drive for more Reserves and alleviate the mounting pressure on sergeants and inspectors.”