The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform will be in Templemore today to witness the swearing in of 265 new Gardaí - the largest ever class in the Garda College.
The Programme for Government 2002 - 2007 commits the Government to ".....complete the current expansion of An Garda Síochána and increase recruitment so that the numbers will increase by a further 2000."
Today's attestation ceremony is a key milestone towards achieving that strength with 265 trainee Gardaí being sworn into An Garda Síochána. The attached graphs deal with resources made available to the Gardaí and also set out the accelerated recruitment plan published by the Minister when the Government approved the recruitment of the additional 2000 Gardaí in October 2004. It is clear that the plan is firmly on course and that there will be 14,000 Gardaí, including students, on the streets by the end of this year. The graphs also illustrate the dramatic contrast between the increases (both in Garda strength and resources) made available by this Government and those presided over by the Rainbow Government.
The Minister said: "The ceremony today where 265 people become attested members of the Force is irrefutable evidence of the unprecedented resources which the Government is investing in the fight against crime and is a complete answer to those who have cynically and opportunistically claimed that the Government's planned expansion of the Force to record levels would not, or could not, take place. These Gardaí take up positions as attested members of the Force at a time when An Garda Síochána, the Courts and the Prison Service, underpinned by a major programme of administrative change and criminal law reform, have never been better resourced to cope with the challenges which they face.
Chief among those challenges is to ensure that those criminals who prey on our society are thwarted and that we continue to avoid the levels of serious crime that are all too prevalent in other jurisdictions. Today's ceremony underlines the Government's belief that the proper response to the crime situation which we face lies not in empty rhetoric but in surely and steadfastly ensuring that the criminal justice system has the resources to tackle it. I wish all those who have been sworn in today well on behalf of the communities which they will serve, in a Force that they are understandably proud to serve in."
The trainee Gardaí, who will have full Garda powers from tomorrow on, will take a solemn oath in a ceremony witnessed by the Commissioner and other senior Gardaí. They will then be assigned to their permanent Garda stations throughout the country and will celebrate their graduation from the College in January of next year.
15 March 2006.