220. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice if she plans to address the low interest in persons joining the Garda Reserve; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10605/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The Garda Commissioner is responsible, by law, for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including the recruitment and training of Garda members and staff.  As Minister, I have no direct role in such decisions.
The Deputy may wish to note that on 19 January 2021, 69 Garda Reserves attested on completion of their training along with 71 Garda members.  Members of the Reserve already work full time jobs but willingly give their free time to An Garda Síochána in order to strengthen their local communities.  The total number of serving Garda Reserves nationally is now 476.
The report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland concluded that the Garda Reserve programme is not utilised to its full potential.  The Commission recommended that future recruitment to the Garda Reserve should be paused, pending the outcome of a comprehensive strategic review, in order to examine how best to structure the Garda Reserve to meet the needs of An Garda Síochána. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the final draft of the Garda Reserve Strategy is currently being reviewed within the organisation.
The Deputy may wish to further note that in its latest report on policing during the COVID-19 pandemic, published on 23 February 2021, the Policing Authority noted that the Garda Commissioner is now seeking to use the Garda Reserve to leverage the maximum capacity of the organisation. The extended utilisation of the Garda Reserve is a positive step, which the Authority has welcomed.