Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Community Safety and Investment: Motion [Private Members]


10:30 am

Photo of Seán KyneSeán Kyne (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank my colleague, Senator Byrne, for sharing her time. I thank my colleagues in the Labour Party for putting down this very important motion. The speech from the Minister, Deputy McEntee, clearly laid out the priorities, investment and legislative programme the Government has pursued in respect of the justice portfolio and gardaí. A lot of impressive statistics have been provided.

I welcome in particular the recent changes regarding the maximum age for entry into An Garda Síochána. It will make a difference, and is already making a difference, in terms of the number of people who are interested in going forward to the gardaí. I applied for the aptitude test for the Garda a long time ago, but I did not take it. I sometimes wonder where I went wrong and how life could have been different. That was a choice I made at time. Giving people aged in their 30s the opportunity to consider a career in the Garda is a worthwhile thing to do and I welcome that.

I hope that following initial recruitment under the new system, we will see a large increase in Garda numbers to bring them up to the 15,000 that the Government aims to achieve by the end of 2024. Like others, I acknowledge the impact Covid had on our recruitment targets. We see issues across a range of sectors with staffing, not just in the Garda and Defence Forces but a range of other public services. The private sector also faces issues with recruitment. There are a wide range of reasons behind that; it is not an issue unique to the Garda.

Being a garda is a difficult job and gardaí deserve to be well paid for. The job is probably getting more difficult because of the pressures of society. It is probably more difficult as we move from more rural communities to those that are more urban and where there is an influx of people to a more confined area. There is a more mobilised population in terms of social media that allows people to mobilise to riot which we saw before Christmas. We saw the excellent response of gardaí to that and the arrests that have taken place since then. Being a garda is an onerous position and should be one people have pride in. Gardaí should have pride not just in themselves but communities should have pride in and have a good relationship with them.

Community partnership and policing is the way to go. It is what we had in the past. Nowadays gardaí do not always live in their local communities, which creates difficulties. It would be preferable if all gardaí lived in their local communities, but I understand that is not always possible. I commend the motion and look forward to continued investment in and recruitment to An Garda Síochána.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.