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Commissioner, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and most especially, new members of the Garda reserve.
I am honoured and privileged to be with you here today as you celebrate your graduation as members of the Garda Reserve. You have successfully completed your training and you are now ready to play a full and complete part in ensuring the safety and security of the communities you serve.
It is a proud day, not just for you yourselves but also for your families who have helped you and supported you in reaching this day. I want to commend you for your spirit of volunteerism and your desire to make the world a better place.
This is especially commendable at a difficult period in our country’s history. You have chosen to give willingly of your time to contribute to the good of society. Your volunteering helps the citizens of this state, without exception, by helping to maintain peace and security for us all. This is a great service to your community and to this country. On behalf of us all, I thank you.
Today you become Reserve members of An Garda Síochána. You now belong to a Force with a long and proud tradition - a tradition of upholding the law of the land without fear or favour. An Garda Síochána enjoys huge levels of trust from the communities that they serve and which you now represent. This trust has been built up by generations of Gardaí and must be maintained.
You have completed your training as members of the Garda Reserve in a range of powers and responsibilities and I know that you will use them well. I understand from the Commissioner that he is planning to roll out additional powers to all your colleagues very shortly. This is a new positive development for the Garda Reserve and reflects the professionalism and service which you bring to your role.
The Garda Reserve is also representative of the new diverse Ireland. I am very pleased to see graduates today from a number of different countries and in fact there are now people from twenty six different nationalities in the Garda Reserve. It is hugely important that An Garda Síochána continues to be fully representative of the communities it serves and your participation in both the Garda Reserve is especially welcome.
There are now almost twelve hundred attested members of the Garda Reserve making a real and tangible contribution to the policing of our State. Recruitment and training for new Reserve members is ongoing and the public are seeing the frontline, visible policing in which you play a crucial role.
Today is also a special day for the Garda Síochána for another reason. I am delighted to confirm that recruitment to An Garda Síochána has started once again, and in the course of 2014 and beyond we will all see new recruits entering the Garda College here in Templemore. Applications are now being accepted from suitably qualified persons, including eligible members of the Garda Reserve, by the Public Appointments Service through their web site.
The new recruitment campaign will see recruits entering the Garda College for the first time since May 2009.
Despite the constraints of the last few years the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Síochána are committed to maintaining operational effectiveness. As Minister with responsibility for protecting the security of the State, I would like to reassure everyone here today that the Garda Commissioner and I will ensure that the maximum possible level of resources will be made available to the Gardaí and that optimum use will be made of these resources. I am on record as saying that the full-time objective strength of An Garda Síochána should be maintained at 13,000 and the new recruitment campaign will facilitate our meeting this objective. Consequently, the Commissioner should be able to maintain the level of services across the country and continue the highly successful fight against crime. An Garda Síochána will also have an injection of new blood which is essential in every organisation. Of course the College will be buzzing with anticipation and the benefits to the town of Templemore will be there for all to see.
Getting back to today’s event, I would like to thank the staff here at the training college, who, I’m sure you will agree, provide top-class instruction and guidance in preparation for your future service. I have no doubt that they will join with me in congratulating you on your achievements so far, and wishing you well in your future time with An Garda Síochána.
Above all, I would like you to congratulate you once again on your achievements. Make sure that you enjoy the day and the well-deserved celebrations with your friends and family.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.