Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan TD has every effort must be made to ensure that Gardaí are on the front line and management positions in the force are filled with civilian staff.

The Deputy was commenting following his recent priority question posed to the Minister for Justice in relation to her commitment to increase civilian staff within the force by a further 2,000.

“The 2015 Garda Inspectorate Report pointed out that the Garda Síochána had a relatively low percentage of civilians within its force. It calculated the number of civilians as being in the region of 14%, while neighbouring police forces including the PSNI have 25-26%,” said Deputy O’Callaghan.

“The Minister has informed me that at present, there are approximately 2,000 civilians in the organisation carrying out senior management, administrative and technical roles.

“There were previous attempts to have senior members of An Garda Síochána serve in administrative functions and that very senior offices were given direct responsibility over administrative functions that could, and should, be carried out by civilian employees of An Garda Síochána.

“I am aware that the Minister previously announced plans to double the number of civilian staff in An Garda Síochána by 2021. Its is crucial that we recognise that at the top level of An Garda Síochána there is a need to priortise serious police work rather than administration duties that could be undertaken by civicilans.

“The benefit of civilianisation is that it allows the members of An Garda Síochána to active police, which is what communities want. There is also an advantage in the sense that one gets a different form of culture coming into the Garda.

“There are hundreds of positions within the force that could be filled with civilian staff and free up huge numbers to increase policing on our streets and in our rural communities especially.

“The Minister’s target of doubling the number of civilians employed by the force by 2021 is a huge task. Minister Fitzgerald has said repeatedly that she wants to see a more civilianised Garda force. This is her chance to show that she means what she says.

“We need as many members of An Garda Síochána as possible on the beat tackling crime, and protecting our rural communities particularly in light of the harrowing events of the past week ,” concluded O’Callaghan.