Deputy Eugene Murphy.
Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has highlighted the fact that the Roscommon/Longford Garda division has the second lowest number of Garda reservists in the country and he is hopeful that plans to recruit 300 new reserves annually will have a direct impact on the region.
He has also highlighted the fact that the number of Garda reservists in the Galway area has almost halved over the last two years.
Deputy Murphy raised the issue of the alarmingly low numbers of Garda reserves through an oral question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald.
The Fianna Fáil TD noted that there were only 11 Garda reserves in the Roscommon/Longford Garda division in September of 2016 which was the second lowest rate in the country.
“This figure is down 7 from 18 in 2014 and is deeply alarming- Concerns have been expressed for some time that we are not maximising the potential of the Garda reserve. The Garda Inspectorate report Changing Policing in Ireland, published just before Christmas, pointed out that despite receiving considerable training, reserves are not consistently or strategically utilised for operational purposes,” said Deputy Murphy.
Figures also show that there were a total of 24 Garda reservists in the Sligo/Leitrim division in September 2016 which is only a marginal drop of one since 2014. However Galway has seen a drop of 48% in the number of Garda reservists since 2014 going from 70 down to 36 in September 2016 which represents a decrease of 48.6%.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy welcomed the fact that in response to his query to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice it emerged that work has begun on the development of a recruitment plan with the objective of recruiting and training 300 new reserves annually, starting in 2017, to bring the strength of the Reserve up from its current strength of 789 members to 2,000.
Deputy Murphy also welcomed the Tánaiste’s comments that her office is currently examining the possibility of recruitment at a regional or divisional level, rather than centrally and also the manner in which the training is delivered.
“It is very important that the alarmingly low numbers of Garda reservists in the Roscommon/Longford Garda division is addressed and I am calling for a particular regional focus which would benefit more rural areas which have suffered from the withdrawal of services and reductions in Garda numbers over the past number of years. By expanding the reserve it will also free up Gardai to more front-line policing activities,” said Deputy Murphy.