New recruits 'excited' about joining An Garda Siochána at a time of 'change' in the force

Senior gardaí admit the fake breath test scandal has "damaged the reputation" of the force, but new recruits say they are excited to be joining at such "an exciting time".

Management has been speaking as 181 new gardaí pass out at Templemore this afternoon.

In a speech to the new members of the force, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan acknowledged the recent controversies in the force - saying he understood that some new members may be feeling a "little apprehensive" about the future.

It comes as the process to find a new Garda Commissioner continues following the recent retirement of embattled Noirín O'Sullivan.

The force has faced fresh scrutiny after an investigation recently discovered that almost 1.5 million false tests were recorded, and found some gardaí were exaggerating figures by 300%.

Some new recruits say they are fully aware of the controversies but are looking forward to reform.

One new recruit said: "It is an exciting time to be going in when there is going to be a lot of change and a lot of difference going to happen."

Another said: "There is controversy in every organisation you are going into, but going forward things are only going to get better in my eyes."

A third recruit said: "They've told us a lot about the code of ethics, so it's an exciting time to be joining the guards."

The Garda Representative Association (GRA), meanwhile, has recently claimed that rank and file members of An Garda Síochana did not falsify the figures, but were told to elevate them by senior officers.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey says they are investigating those claims, saying they want the "details and facts".

John Twomey.

He acknowledged that what happened with the breath tests has damaged An Garda Síochana.

Speaking at Templemore, he said: "This is an organisational issue, and it's one the organisation has to challenge. It's a behavioural issue that is not acceptable for members of An Garda Síochana.

"It has done damage to the reputation, and it's certainly something that the Acting Commissioner and the management team will work day and night to restore."

Minister Flanagan also had his say on the GRA comments at today's ceremony.

He observed: "I felt the comments were premature. I was disappointed with the comments.

"That said, there is a process underway and I am awaiting the independent report I am expecting shortly from the Policing Authority."

He insisted he wants "all the skeletons out of all the cupboards".

In his speech to the new members of the force earlier, Minister Flanagan said: "An Garda Síochána will come through this period of controversy as a stronger, more cohesive, police service better equipped organisationally to meet the many complex challenges it faces day in and day out.

"There is a great energy here today and I know that each of you individually is going to make a huge contribution to the public good and also by embracing the change agenda in this great organisation."

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