537. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which she expects membership of An Garda Síochána to increase over the next 12 months, bearing in mind natural retirements or resignations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20837/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána on the 31 March 2015 the latest date for which figures are readily available was 12,734.
The Deputy will be aware that the first intake since 2009 of 100 new recruits entered training at the Garda College, Templemore, on 15 September 2014. As part of Budget 2015, a further intake of 200 recruits in two batches was announced. On 15 December 2014, the first 100 of these batches commenced their training. The remaining 100 entered the college in early February. This brought to 300 the number of recruits in the Garda College and is a measure of the Government's commitment to ensure that recruitment to An Garda Síochána continues seamlessly. The September intake were attested as members of the Garda Síochána in April 2015 and assigned to Garda Stations throughout the Country and the December intake will attest in Summer 2015. In addition, I have received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for two further intakes of 125 Garda recruits later this year. That will bring the number of new recruits to 550 by the end of 2015.
With regard to retirements, it is difficult to establish an average figure for Garda retirements, particularly as the annual rate of retirements has been affected in the past by one-off factors such as the grace period which lasted until the end of February 2012. While it would not be unreasonable, therefore, extrapolating from recent experience, to expect that retirements might range somewhere between 300 and 400, it is not possible to give a scientific estimate.