The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has refused to make any commitment in relation to garda numbers next year despite concerns that hundreds of gardaí are set to retire.

Answering questions from Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins at the Oireachtas Justice Committee today, the Minister refused to make any guarantees about maintaining a minimum number of personnel in the force next year.

Deputy Collins said this adds to concerns that major gaps will arise in the force over the next two years as 1,200 members will be eligible for retirement. This could bring garda numbers to a dangerously low level of 12,227. 

“I am again calling on Minister Shatter to lift the ban on recruitment in the gardaí and reopen Templemore garda training college next year. Garda resources are already stretched to their limit and we cannot allow a situation where hundreds of gardaí retire over the next two years and are not replaced,” said Deputy Collins.

“People will find it extremely worrying that the Minister refused to make any clear commitment to maintaining minimum garda numbers in the coming months and years.  Many communities have already lost their local garda stations this year or have seen local garda resources cut significantly.  These cuts were made in a year when the rate of burglaries, muggings and thefts increased right across the country.  Now it’s reported that the Minister plans to shut down another 80 garda stations from next year and downgrade dozens more.

“This attack on community garda resources must stop. It takes two years to train recruits so the process needs to start immediately.  Fianna Fáil’s alternative budget for next year sets aside funding to reopen Templemore in 2013.  While we recognise and support the need to make overall budgetary savings of €3.5 billion next year, this can be done without slashing resources for frontline policing.”