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Question

285. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if salary negotiations will be allowed in the current grade III forensic scientist recruitment campaign. [7421/18]

286. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether the lack of success of previous recruitment competitions for grade III forensic scientists was affected or informed by the inability to negotiate salary for new entrants. [7422/18]

287. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether he should seek an exemption from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to the rule that starting pay be above the minimum for the competition for recruitment within Forensic Science Ireland; and if he has discussed this with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. [7423/18]

288. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether, in the context of ensuring proper staffing levels in Forensic Science Ireland and in view of the competition for recruitment within this field, applicants in recent years should be placed on a point on the grade III salary scale which reflects previous salaries, qualifications and experience. [7424/18]

289. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the staff numbers in Forensic Science Ireland for each of the past eight years. [7425/18]

290. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has satisfied himself with the staff numbers in Forensic Science Ireland in view of the increased workload it faces, including the implementation of the national DNA database in the past two years and the implementation of the PRUM treaty obligations; and his plans to increase numbers. [7426/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 285 to 290, inclusive, together.
Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) plays a major and valued role in the investigation of crime in Ireland.
Insofar as recruitment to FSI is concerned, there is no evidence that the most recent recruitment competitions for Forensic Scientist Grade III have not been a success. As the table shows, 16 persons have already been assigned from the latest competition and recruitment from that competition is on-going.

Competition year Number on panel Number assigned
2015 15 6
2017 (current panel) 28 16
Total 43 22

As of now, there is no evidence that the starting salary for Forensic Scientist Grade III has been a major impediment to recruitment - that is not to rule out the possibility that it may have been a factor in the rejection of employment in individual cases. The situation will, however, be kept under review.
In light of future developments, including its move to a state-of-the-art laboratory in Backweston, and its merger with the Garda Technical Bureau, as recommended by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in 'Changing Policing in Ireland', FSI is currently reviewing its workforce strategy. The output from this work will be considered by my Department in due course.
Finally, the following table shows the staff numbers in FSI at the end of the past eight years and today:
End Year Total staff
2010 97
2011 96
2012 98
2013 95
2014 92
2015 88
2016 99
2017 103
Current 105