I was pleased to hear Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald reaffirm in the Dáil during the week the commitment in the Programme for Government to continue the ongoing accelerated Garda recruitment programme, with a view to increasing Garda numbers to 15,000.
I will be working closely with my colleague Minister Fitzgerald to ensure that Galway sees the benefit of this increase in Garda numbers.
In what was a really short-sighted move, Fianna Fáil chose to close down the Garda training college in Templemore after the economic crash and introduced a moratorium on Garda recruitment.
With the economic recovery underway, Fine Gael in government reopened Templemore in 2014 and prioritised Garda recruitment once more. A total of 700 Garda trainees have been recruited, with a further 450 planned to be recruited during the remainder of this year.
It is encouraging to hear the Minister confirm that even taking account of projected retirements, the current rate of recruitment will bring Garda numbers to around the 13,000 mark this year and that she is determined to bring this figure to 15,000 in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
Minister Fitzgerald also detailed the expenditure on An Garda by her Department which accounts for 64% of all expenditure by the Department of Justice and Equality.
Spending for An Garda includes the additional exchequer funding of €40 million announced recently. In addition, a further €15 million will be reallocated to Garda from elsewhere within the Vote Group in a technical measure later in the year.
- Garda Pay €971 million – including an overtime budget of €91.5 million
- ICT Capital – €34 million including the first tranche of the capital investment plan of €205 million. In total, €330 million, including €205 million under the Capital Plan, is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies in the fight against crime.
- Building Capital – €50 million for the contractual costs of the construction of three new Divisional Headquarters as well as a refurbishment programme of stations throughout the country. This includes the new Divisional Headquarters for An Garda in the West currently under construction at Murrough, Renmore in the City.
- Garda Fleet – €6 million – Investment in a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose Garda fleet will continue under the Capital Plan 2016-2021 which provides €46 million for new Garda vehicles, ensuring that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. This is in addition to €34 million already invested in the fleet since 2012, with over 720 new vehicles coming on stream since the start of 2015.