118. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which membership of An Garda Síochána will increase over the next twelve months, given natural retirements and resignations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8915/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of resources. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the overall number of personnel available to An Garda Síochána on the 29 February 2016 was close to 16,000 comprising 12,785 Gardaí, 932 Garda Reserve members and over 2,000 civilians.
The Deputy will appreciate it is vital that An Garda Síochána is renewed in order to ensure that it has the capacity to provide effective and visible policing throughout the country. With this objective in mind, there have been seven intakes of Garda Trainees to the Garda College since it was reopened in September 2014 giving a total intake of 700. A further 450 will be taken in this year. So far 395 of the new Garda Trainees have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream uniform duties in communities nationwide.
It is expected that a further 300 Garda Trainees will attest by the end of this year which, taking account of projected retirements, will bring Garda numbers to around the 13,000 mark. This does not, of course, take account of any proposals that may be agreed as part of the ongoing discussions on the formation of a Government.