Taoiseach and Minister Flanagan welcome 197 new members to An Garda Síochána

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan today welcomed 197 new members to An Garda Síochána following their attestation at  the Garda Training College, Templemore. 

Today’s ceremony brings to 3,000 the number of new Gardaí that have attested and been assigned to frontline policing duties nationwide since the reopening of the Garda College in 2014. 

  • Garda numbers rise to over 14,300
  • Set to reach 15,000 by 2021
  • Taoiseach calls for greater ethnic diversity in An Garda Síochána
  • Minister Flanagan welcomes new Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy
  • Announces work to develop and improve law in relation to hate speech and hate crime

Speaking at the Passing out Parade, the Taoiseach noted that Garda numbers have now reached 14,300, the highest level in almost a decade.

Since I became Taoiseach two-and-a-half years ago 1,985 new Gardaí have attested, including all of you today.  I believe it is the visible presence of Gardaí on the streets and in our communities that reassures the public and deters crime. Today we have over 14,300 Gardaí on our streets – that’s more than for a very long time – aided by 2,900 Garda staff nationwide.  These numbers are increasing and our ambition is to reach a total workforce of 21,000 by the end of next year. We are on target to do this.

Welcoming the new recruits, Minister Flanagan noted that Gardaí are now also supported by an unprecedented 2,900 Garda staff, which is facilitating the redeployment of Gardaí to frontline duties.  Minister Flanagan reflected on this as well as on the launch by the Commissioner of the new Garda Operating Model, a key milestone under “A Policing Service for the Future”, the implementation plan for the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. 

Noting that the new Model will result in less bureaucracy and duplication at senior levels and more decision making powers at a local level, the Minister said:

 All communities will gain, through having more frontline Gardaí and a more localised policing service with greater decision-making power and expertise in each Division.

The Taoiseach welcomed the growing diversity of An Garda Síochána, saying:

 Our role models should reflect who we are as a society, and the same is true of our Gardaí…Today I am asking Commissioner Harris to set an objective for encouraging more people from ethnic minorities into the Gardaí.

Minister Flanagan commended the efforts which have already taken towards this goal of ensuring An Garda Síochána reflects and represents Irish society, including in particular the recent launch by the Commissioner of the Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy.  

He also referred to broader action to address racism, incitement to hatred and hate crime, noting:

The existing legal provision for hate as an aggravating factor in sentencing is not broadly understood in the public.  The time is right to review our laws and reassess what is necessary and effective to stamp out hate speech and hate crime in Ireland.

 He explained

My Department is working as a priority to develop and improve our legislation on both hate speech and hate crime.  We want to understand people’s experience and ensure that the new laws we will introduce in this field are robust, clearly understood and effective.  And so a public consultation on incitement to hatred is currently being carried out by my Department.  We are also close to finalising research on the effectiveness of the different legislative approaches to tackling hate crime in other countries — to learn from best practice. Building on this research, we will in the new year bring forward proposals, for discussion, on new hate crime legislation.

 Of the 197 probationers that attested on 29 November 2019, 14 were born outside of the State.

 34% of the probationer Gardaí that attested are women.  The percentage of women in An Garda Síochána has risen from 18.5% in 2006 to 28% today and is now above the European average.

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