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800 new gardaí will be recruited next year - but who will want that job?

The first recruitment campaign since the recession saw 20,000 people apply – just 5,000 people applied in the most recent drive.

Image: Niall Carson/PA

THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice’s budget of €2.54 billion in 2017 will help fund the recruitment of 800 new gardaí next year, the Dáil was told today.

In September this year, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald committed to hiring 3,000 gardaí over the next four years.

Funding of €15 million will provide for the recruitment of 800 gardaí by the end of 2017, as well as up to 500 civilian staff.

The first recruitment drive since the recession hit began in December 2013 and some 20,000 people applied for those first 300 positions. The most recent recruitment competition closed two weeks ago and a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said over 5,000 applications were received.

Over the two previous garda trainee campaigns, applications received were at an all-time high, given that there had not been a recruitment campaign since 2008.

The spokesperson said the figure of 5,000 showed a “levelling off to a more regular pattern which is in line with campaigns held prior to the moratorium”.

‘A demanding job’

The Garda Representative Association (GRA), which has four strike days planned next month over its pay dispute with the government, disagreed.

The association told TheJournal.ie it would “have concerns that the current pay levels for new recruits, who begin their career in policing on the wage of €23,171, are too low and may not attract candidates of the calibre required for such a demanding job”.

The GRA is calling on the government to urgently resolve to “restore garda pay to an appropriate level for the dangerous but essential work that our members undertake on a daily basis”.

‘Don’t bother’

One recent recruit said he “definitely wouldn’t recommend” the job to someone considering it as it currently stands.

I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is young and starting out, who is looking to buy a home, or looking to keep a car on the road, or anybody who has kids – anybody who currently has a full-time job, don’t bother.

“You’re probably just going to amass more debt than you already have and it will only become a bigger struggle,” he said.

All the negativity recently in relation to whistleblowers and corruption – that would put you off too.

The last fortnight has seen further controversial protected disclosures made to the Justice Minister – this time by two senior gardaí. Under whistleblower legislation, they told the minister that senior management orchestrated a significant campaign to destroy the character of another whistleblower.

They allege this included sending messages to officer attacking this person, creating an intelligence file on him and briefing media and politicians about him, during which false allegations would be made.

‘Dealing with prisoners who spit at you, kick you’

As part of pay negotiations between the GRA and officials from the Department of Justice, there was an offer to restore rent allowance to new recruits.

However, this would only have been done incrementally over three years and would have required a commitment by all 10,599 rank-and-file members of the association to a number of productivity measures.

“If you’re taking home €500 a week in an office job now, why would you want to leave that for a job where you’re barely clearing €300 a week and you could be fighting every few days, dealing with prisoners who spit at you, kick you, threaten your family?” the recent recruit asked.

“A job with dangers like those involved in ours is in a different league.”

Read: ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’: What is happening with the gardaí now?>

Read: High Court judge to investigate allegations of wrongdoing related to whistleblower disclosures>

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