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Question

134. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her overall target for the number of members of An Garda Síochána, given the previous Minister’s assertion that Garda numbers should not fall below 13,000 and given that the Garda Síochána website states that there are currently 12,882 gardaí. [43341/15]

135. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if retirement from An Garda Síochána will outnumber the intended 1,150 additional recruits by the end 2016. [43342/15]

136. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality given that Garda Síochána graduates require an additional eight months of on-the-job training before they attain full qualification, when she envisages that significant improvements in fully qualified Garda numbers will be achieved. [43343/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 to 136, inclusive, together.
The overall number of personnel available to the Garda Commissioner is close to 16,000. This figure comprises 12,866 members, 978 reserve members, and 2,012 civilians as of 31 October.
This Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the capacity to provide effective, visible policing throughout the country. The number of Gardaí is crucial to this but, also of importance, is ensuring that the overall composition of the Garda workforce achieves the right balance between highly trained Gardaí and professional, skilled civilian staff, and that the Service harnesses the energy and skills of volunteers through the Garda Reserve.
In relation to Garda numbers I am committed to on-going seamless recruitment into the future and as the Deputy will be aware, provision has been made in Budget 2016 for the recruitment of 600 new Gardaí next year bringing to 1,150 the number of new Gardaí that will be recruited since the reopening of the Garda College in Templemore in September 2014. So far 295 of those new recruits are fully attested and are on the ground in communities nationwide. It is expected that a further 395 will attest by the end of 2016 which, taking account of projected retirements, will bring Garda numbers to around the 13,000 mark.  I expect recruitment to continue at or around the current levels for the next number of years having regard to factors such as the level of retirements in any one year. In recent years there have been c. 300 retirements per year and this trend is expected to continue.
In relation to civilian staff of An Garda Síochána, they are employed in a wide range of management, administrative, technical and operational roles where they make an invaluable contribution to the delivery of effective policing services throughout the country. The increased budget allocation for An Garda Síochána in 2016, in addition to providing for the recruitment of 600 new Gardaí, provides for the recruitment of additional civilian experts, in particular to develop the Garda ICT investment programme. Having regard to international experience, I believe that there is undoubtedly value in exploring the opportunities for increasing the ratio of civilians to Gardaí, and for releasing Gardaí from administrative and other positions to front-line duties. The process which is currently ongoing to civilianise border control functions at Dublin airport and the transfer of these responsibilities from An Garda Síochána to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is an excellent example of this. Further work in this area will be progressed in conjunction with the Garda Commissioner in the context of the report of the Garda Inspectorate of its review under the Haddington Road Agreement. The terms of reference of that review include all aspects of the operation and administration of An Garda Síochána including the structure, organisation and staffing of An Garda Síochána and the deployment of members and civilian staff to relevant and appropriate roles.