A significant number of the 450 new gardaí passing out of Templemore this year need to be stationed in rural Ireland, specifically counties like Longford, according to local Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty.
Speaking at the Dáil recently, Deputy Flaherty requested that the Minister for Justice give some figures of personnel in each Garda station in Co Longford.
“The Minister will be aware that Garda numbers have fallen for the past five consecutive months and are now at their lowest since January 2020. This is a cause of concern and annoyance within the force but also across rural communities,” he explained.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice James Browne TD stated that, as of September 30, 2021, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 139 gardaí assigned to stations in County Longford, an increase of 13% since 2015 when there were 123 Gardaí assigned.
He also confirmed that450 gardaí will be recruited this year, with another 400 Garda staff to be recruited in 2022 and 800 new Garda recruits in 2022.
“The Minister may be aware that an unexpected but very beneficial consequence of the Covid pandemic was that trainee gardaí from Templemore were dispatched nationwide to support the Covid policing effort,” said Deputy Flaherty.
“This was transformative in County Longford because it allowed stations to move from a traditional roster of six ten-hour shifts to a more effective and productive roster of four 12-hour shifts.
“It greatly enhanced the visibility of officers on the street. The additional officers deployed in Longford throughout Covid points to the optimum number of officers needed to safely police the county. The number of personnel across County Longford needs to be augmented to approach the number we had when trainee officers were provided throughout Covid.
“I hope this can be taken on board by the Commissioner and the Department,” he said.
Minister Browne confirmed that “we have fallen behind in recruitment due to Covid and the restrictions imposed on the training centre in Templemore”.
“I am sure, given the additional resources we will have, that more gardaí will be assigned to Longford,” he said.
Deputy Flaherty said he appreciates the programme for Government has an “ambitious target” for the growh of Garda numbers.
“But Garda strength fell from a high of 14,500 in 2009 to 12,800 in 2014.”
“It is great that we will have 450 new officers coming out of Templemore this year. I emphasise that a significant number of those new officers need to be deployed in rural Ireland, specifically in counties such as Longford,” he concluded.
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