277. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the current and anticipated strength of an Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51940/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible by law for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources.  As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters.  I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of emerging crime trends and policing priorities.
I am pleased that Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of the Government to ensuring our communities are safe and that An Garda Síochána has the resources to be an effective and trusted policing service.
The budget provided by Government to the Garda Commissioner continues to increase to unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.952 billion for 2021.  Budget 2022 provides over €2 billion in funding. 
Garda numbers have increased substantially in recent years, from 12,943 Garda members and 1,999 Garda staff in 2016 to almost 14,400 Garda members and 3,382 staff at the end of September this year. As the Deputy may be aware, Covid-19 restrictions on the Garda Training College in Templemore constrained recruitment and training for periods over the last 18 months.  However, I am glad to confirm that 450 Gardaí will be recruited this year and the funding provided for next year fully supports the sustained recruitment of Garda members and staff.
In particular, the funding announced last week includes provision for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - an additional 1,200 personnel. This increase in the number of Garda members and staff will deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved services to the public generally.  Redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and support roles will also continue next year, thus allowing highly trained Gardaí to focus on frontline policing duties.  The organisation's capacity will be further strengthened by the recruitment of additional Garda staff, including to specialist roles to support the investigation of crime and enhance the management of the organisation.
The 800 extra Gardaí in Budget 2022 means that, by the end of 2022, there will be approximately 14,600 fully attested members of An Garda Síochána and 600 in training. This will put the organisation on target to reach the Government's aim of 15,000 Garda members.
An Garda Síochána have advised that a recruitment plan for 2022 is currently being developed to manage the recruitment processes for Garda Members and Garda Staff roles.  I understand there are a number of successful candidates who will be called from the last competition but a new Garda Trainee competition is also being planned which will be launched before the end of this year or early next year. Question No. 278 answered with Question No. 273.