13. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to increase recruitment of new gardaí to the Garda Síochána; if she will modernise the use of new technology in the Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6969/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The strength of the Garda Síochána on 31 December 2014, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 12,799. There were also 1,124 Garda Reserve members, with a further 48 in training. In addition, there were over 2,000 Garda civilian staff.
The Garda Síochána provides a vital public service, protecting the public from crime and safeguarding the security of the State. As with any such a service, there must be a twin-track approach of investment and reform. In that regard, the Deputy will be aware of the significant programme of Garda reform already under way.
Side by side with the reform process, I was very pleased my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform agreed to the resumption of Garda recruitment. Last September, 100 new Garda recruits entered training at the Garda College in Templemore, the first intake of Garda recruits since May 2009. This was followed by an intake of a further 100 recruits in December and a third intake of 100 this month. This means that there are now 300 Garda students in training. I remain in discussion with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the timing of future intakes of Garda recruits.
In addition to investing in recruitment, I am committed to see that the Garda ICT infrastructure gets the investment it needs to enable the Garda Síochána to deliver an optimum policing service. The recent report of the Garda Inspectorate on Crime Investigation highlighted the importance of this. That is why I have established, in cooperation with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, a steering group to oversee the drawing up a Garda ICT strategy, which will identify the medium and longer term Garda ICT requirements, as well as more immediate priorities. The steering group, which has started work, is chaired by Josephine Feehily, the chairperson-designate of the Policing authority, and includes representatives from the Garda Síochána, the Garda Inspectorate, my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as well as the Government's Chief Information Officer. This work is being taken forward with urgency, and will provide a clear basis for planned and sustained investment in Garda ICT.