TD calls for change in 'terms of conditions' of garda recruitment

Td Calls For Change In 'Terms Of Conditions' Of Garda Recruitment
Fianna Fáil’s Justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan has called for a change “in the terms and conditions” of garda recruitment in a bid to encourage people to join the force, Photo: Collins
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Vivienne Clarke

Fianna Fáil’s Justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan has called for a change “in the terms and conditions” of garda recruitment in a bid to encourage people to join the force.

There was a recruitment crisis, there were 14,000 members of An Garda Síochána, the same level as 20 years ago while the population had increased significantly since then, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.


There had been a problem for a number of years with “lawlessness” in the inner city which was evident through the open drug dealing and the gratuitous acts of violence such as the attack on the American tourist this week.

“We're never going to be able to reduce or stomp all types of criminality. But if you look at Dublin in comparison to other European cities, one thing that stands out is that we don't have enough physical policing on the streets. In fairness to the gardaí, that's not predominantly their fault. We have a recruitment crisis in the force.

“We're down below 14,000 members. That's the same as we were 20 years ago. And we have a situation where the population has increased significantly since then. So we need as policy makers to introduce measures to get numbers in An Garda Síochána up, so we can get more gardai on the streets.”

However, Mr O’Callaghan cautioned that the issue was not as simple as a lack of policing. There were “devastating levels of addiction that are destroying people's lives. And as a result of that, I think there are drug dealers who are feeding off those people whose lives have been destroyed from drugs, and that generates crime".


“But also there are younger youths hanging around who believe that they're immune to any level of apprehension or correction. We need a strategy to deal with them as well. So it's very damaging not just for tourists, not just for the people coming in, but also for the people who live in the inner city. They shouldn't have to live with this level of lawlessness.”

Recruitment problems

There remained a problem with garda recruitment, he added. The Government had provided funding for 1,000 new gardaí this year, funding had been provided for 800 last year, but only 300 had been recruited.

“We need to start looking for new methods to keep numbers up or to grow numbers within the force. We should be looking at increasing the retirement age. We should be looking at getting rid of the discriminatory rule that says you can't join the gardaí if you're over 35 years of age.

"So we need to start looking at the terms and conditions for the gardai. Why is it that people aren't seeking to join the force as they did before and trying to attract in membership? Because without doing this we're not going to get more gardaí?”


“I'm urging the Government to increase the retirement age to 60, also the Labour court determined that it's discriminatory for the State to insist that you can't join the force if you're over 35 years of age, that there are very many people who are doing boring, sedentary jobs in offices who are in their late thirties, early forties.

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"They'd love to join the force, but they're precluded because they're over 35 years of age. So that's a change we could introduce to a statutory instrument very quickly after consultation with the Garda Commissioner. And I would urge the Government to do that.”

The current drugs policy was also failing, he said. “We need to focus, in my opinion, on the aspect of drugs policy that puts people who have devastating levels of addiction from taking serious drugs at the centre, that's where our focus should be, as opposed to just concentrating on people who are interested in using drugs for recreational purposes.

“We need to warn young people about the dangers of taking drugs and ending up on serious drugs because it just leads to a road to destruction and devastation. And we don't do enough to warn people about that.”


The only way that lawlessness in the city centre would be reduced was by increased garda presence, he said.

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