“SCARCE” Garda resources have not been aided by the amount of officers “tied up at the courts all day,” a South-East Clare elected representative has said.

Garda recruitment, retention and resources were debated at the most recent sitting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee (JPC) with the matter brought into focus by Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF).

Referencing the amalgamation of the Clare and Tipperary Garda Divisions, Cllr O’Callaghan remarked, “nationally we’re seeing massive problem of recruitment”. He added, “if we can’t get numbers in what is the alternative. A lot of Gardaí are tied up at the Courts all day, going forward if we can’t get new recruits, what is the alternative to free up the Gardaí we have at the minute because they seem to be scarce”.

Chief Superintendent, Colm O’Sullivan stated, “An Garda Síochána has a problem with retention but so does every other organisation”. He said, “Our target figure is 15,000 people, which is what Oireachtas has given us, that figure has not increased,” the figure includes the recognised level of Garda sworn numbers and individuals who provide administrative support.

At the end of 2022, staffing levels were an approximate 14,103 according to O’Sullivan. “We always had resignations and people in organisation who decided the job wasn’t for them or they weren’t right fit, people are more transient in their attitude to job opportunities today, when we joined the guards it was a job for life and it was a vocation for us”.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan continued, “thirty years ago the amount of people going to college was much less than what are going to college today, we have a more highly educated workforce which is sought after by the private sector. Before Christmas, the Government announced an extra recruitment of 1,000 people, that was on top of 800 last year which we didn’t reach last year, I don’t know if we will make the 1,000 this year”.

Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) believed “resources are going to be a challenge” for Gardaí into the future.

Management are not aware of the extra supports they will be provided, the Chief Supt admitted. “I don’t know how many additional resources I’m going to get this year, it’s like looking into a crystal ball and asking for answers, the next batch of recruits won’t be out till July”.

In response Cllr O’Callaghan asked what he could see changing within the force. “We have the numbers we have currently. When something happens, we have to deal with it,” replied O’Sullivan. He said An Garda Síochána have “no control” over the amount of officers it can have at the courts. He explained, “Court requires Gardaí to give evidence and that takes time, it might be only one Garda involved or more, we’ve no control over it”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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