205. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which she expects the strength of An Garda Síochána to be replenished over the next five years; the way in which this will impact on urban and rural areas, with particular reference to specific locations that are indicating increased levels of crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35725/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): This Government is committed to the ongoing recruitment of trainee Gardaí, and to this end the first intake since 2009 of new recruits commenced training at the Garda College, Templemore, in September of last year. To date there has been four intakes of Garda Trainees into the Garda College, giving a total intake of 400. A further 150 recruits will enter college by year end, bringing total recruitment of Garda Trainees to 550. So far 290 of the new Garda Trainees have attested as members of An Garda Síochána. I am pleased that the budget allocation for 2016 will allow the recruitment of 600 new Gardaí in addition to the 550 that will be recruited by year end.
The recruitment of additional trainee Garda is essential to renew An Garda Síochána and to ensure the delivery of effective policing services throughout the country. With this in mind I hope to be in a position to make an announcement shortly in relation to a new recruitment campaign for 2016.
As regards the impact of new members on urban and rural areas, the Deputy will appreciate that it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions and Districts. Garda management keeps 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.