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Recruitment failure sees Galway short of 50 gardaí

Failures in the national recruitment campaign have resulted in a shortfall in manpower in the Galway Garda Division – the county is down over 50 personnel.

Garda Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche (pictured) said staff available to him was down by 16 sergeants. He told the County Galway Joint Policing Committee meeting that he was also down by 35 uniformed Gardaí.

Chief Supt Roche said these reduced resources was reflected in Garda Divisions right across the country.

He said recent recruitment campaigns had not been successful last year. But currently there were 450 in training in Templemore, and between 500 and 600 will graduate by next July, and Chief Supt Roche said he hoped to get 20 or 30 of them.

As well as retirements and people leaving the force, there will be up to 100 promotions; including 77 sergeants and 30 inspectors. This meant that there would be 77 fewer Gardaí visible in communities.

Chief Supt Roche said there were about 15 Garda staff at its control room in Murrough who he hoped to redeploy once civilian staff were trained.

He was responding to queries at the JPC at County Hall about staffing levels, including from Galway West TD Catherine Connolly (Ind) who asked for an update on vacancies in the Conamara Gaeltacht.

The meeting heard that some vacancies had been filled, although they were still down two sergeants in Conamara and down by five Gardaí.

Deputy Connolly said that it was her understanding that even when Gardaí with Gaeilge were found, the lack of affordable housing to buy or rent was another obstacle to Gardaí relocating or transferring to the Conamara Gaeltacht.

Chief Supt Roche confirmed that he deployed additional Gardaí to police the Aran Islands this year, for the first time ever, due to the huge crowds that visit during summer.

He said that he had 60 people on a transfer list, wishing to relocate to Galway but it could take up to five years before transfers occur.

Councillor Declan Geraghty (Ind) said constituents around North Galway were concerned at the level of policing in the area.

He said that two Gardaí had retired and were not replaced, and one was out sick. The area took delivery of a new patrol car, he said, but one had replaced two.

Cllr Geraghty said sergeants and Gardaí used to be stationed in Glenamaddy, Wiliamstowns, Ballymoe, Dunmore and Creggs, and were seen on the ground. He asked if there was anything the JPC could do as an organisation to put pressure on to get more Gardaí.

Cllr Andrew Reddington (FG) asked that additional resources be made available in Headford.

Chief Supt Roche said two Gardaí had been deployed to the area on over-time, and that was to be reviewed this September.

Over-time was not sustainable, he said, but he hoped to allocate one more full-time Garda to Headford.

Chairman of the JPC, Councillor Jim Cuddy (Ind), an ex-Garda, said young people could not afford to pay mortgages and rear families on the €185 per week that they receive while training in Templemore.

Chief Supt Roche said there was a proposal to pay up to 80% of a Garda’s pay to trainees to attract more recruits. He agreed entry level pay can be low but that was the case in many professions until they have upskilled and gained experience.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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