Check against delivery

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration has been given to the circumstances in which a change may be effected to the upper age limit of 35 for recruitment to An Garda Síochána.

Senator Ivana Bacik

Cathaoirleach, On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, I would like to thank Senator Bacik for raising this issue. Unfortunately the Minister is not available to address the House himself and he has asked me to speak on his behalf.

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by Statutory Regulations, namely the Garda Síochána (Admission & Appointments) Regulations 1988/2005. These regulations set the maximum age for entry to the Garda Síochána at 35 years of age. This age was considered in 2004 when, on the recommendation of the Garda Commissioner, the maximum recruitment age was increased from its then 26 years of age.
This upper age limit of 35 was set following a comprehensive examination of the issues surrounding recruitment into the Garda Síochána. In particular this assessment took account of developments in equality legislation and also the following criteria:

(1) The cost of training;
(2) The need for recruits to serve for a sufficient period of time as full members of the service to recoup this cost;
(3) The operational requirements of the service in terms of having an age profile appropriate to the physical demands placed on members in the course of their duty;

Having considered all the relevant matters, the Commissioner recommended that the recruitment age be extended from its then limit of 26 years of age to a revised limit of 35 years of age. The Minister agreed with that recommendation which led to the introduction of revised regulations. The Minister does not have any proposals to increase the recruitment age for entry to An Garda Síochána at this time.

The Minister believes that when recruitment begins again, as it must,  there will be a sufficient pool of suitably qualified and eligible candidates who will be provided with excellent training in the Garda College in Templemore and ’on the job’  in Garda Station throughout the country.
This training programme has been recently revised as a result of the recommendations contained in the report of the Review Group on Training and Development in An Garda Síochána. Following the publication of this report, a working group was set up to examine the current entry requirements and amend, if necessary, the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations to accommodate the recommended changes to the student/probationer training programme.  The aim is to improve and re-align recruit training in line with best practice in order to meet the new challenges of a changing society.   It is anticipated that the amended Regulations will be finalised in the near future.

The Minister has asked me to also point out that there is an ongoing civilianisation programme in the Garda Síochána and while the moratorium on recruitment in the public service still exists, the recruitment age for civilian staff is well in excess of 35 years of age.

18 April 2013