163. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if all the persons who sat the entrance examinations for An Garda Síochána since recruitment was re-introduced have been called for training; the number still outstanding; if an explanation has been given for the delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5174/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013. The Public Appointments Service (PAS), on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, manages the initial recruitment stages for selection of Garda Trainees with the final stages of the recruitment process in which candidates are vetted, complete a physical competency test and a medical examination, are managed by the Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no direct involvement in the matter.
As the Deputy will also be aware a programme of accelerated recruitment to An Garda Síochána is on-going with a view to reaching 15,000 Gardaí as part of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 by 2021. I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - an increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am also pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 recruits will enter the Garda College. Also 800 trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.
Since recruitment recommenced in 2014 five campaigns have been undertaken. I am informed that a total of 4,199 applicants have successfully completed the initial recruitment stages conducted by PAS and that of these 2,213 have either completed or commenced their training in the Garda College and that 814 have either withdrawn or were unsuccessful in the final stages of the process conducted by An Garda Síochána.
I am informed that An Garda Síochána is currently processing the balance of 1,172 applicants who successfully completed the PAS recruitment stages through the final stages of the process. The time frame for completing the final stages can vary due to a number factors. These include the length of the vetting process which may, for example, be more time consuming if the applicant has resided abroad; whether the applicant has to repeat the physical; or is deferred for medical reasons.
I understand that successful candidates are still being called from the 2016 competitions and it is expected that successful candidates from the 2017 competition will enter the College towards the middle of 2018.
I would advise any candidate for a position as a Garda trainee to contact the Public Appointments Service or the Garda Appointments Office if they have any queries in relation to their application.