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Public Order Unit gardaí during the recent riot in Dublin city centre. Alamy Stock Photo

GRA President insists training standards must be maintained despite rush to police Dublin

151 will next week leave the Garda College in Templemore at least two weeks ahead of the completion of their training.

A GARDA REPRESENTATIVE body leader has appealed for training standards to be maintained as garda trainees will leave their studies in Templemore a month early. 

A majority are on their way to police the streets of Dublin over the Christmas period as part of plans to boost visibility of officers on patrol in the wake of last month’s riots. 

Brendan O’Connor, President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), was speaking as 151 trainees will next week leave Templemore Garda College a month ahead of the completion of their training.

Following the riots of 23 November gardaí were drafted in to bolster the force in the capital – including more than 200 specially trained public order unit officers. They have been maintaining a high visibility presence across the city. 

Those gardaí have been brought from across the country and are being paid overtime rates.  

Over the next few weeks that Garda visibility will also be augmented by Operation Open City – an initiative to increase high visibility policing across roads and streets. 

Amid the two operations concerns have also been expressed around availability of accomodation for the newly-attested gardaí heading for Dublin.

A Garda source has said that the new officers have been given the usual two weeks’ notice of what stations they are going to – most will be deployed to the capital.

That source also confirmed that this was not a special temporary transfer scenario – this will be a permanent assignment of workplaces. 

The source also said that no special arrangements have been put in place to assist gardaí with accommodation issues in the capital but that they have been advised to seek help from within the organisation should the need arise.

Garda presence-2_90694169 Gardaí on patrol in Dublin.

They will go back to the Garda College to complete training in the new year for a number of weeks. 

Separate to that a new batch of trainee gardaí will be brought into the County Tipperary college on 27 December when they will be enrolled as trainees. They will then leave and return on 14 January when they will start their training.

There is some disquiet among sources that this is an effort to meet targets before the end of 2023.

Shortened training

Garda sources said the shortened training period is not a new phenomenon and that there had been previous scenarios where gardaí were sent out of the college early to join stations. Approximately 325 trainees were attested and given full Garda powers in 2020 at the start of the Covid crisis.  

Brendan O’Connor said that the early attestation of trainees will relieve “some of the pressure on existing members and provide badly needed visibility”.

“We acknowledge the benefits of having additional members but are mindful that these members are inexperienced and require a level of guidance and support which is another responsibility on existing over stretched staff.

“It is essential that standards of training are maintained even when operational requirements place extraordinary demands on the organisation,” he said. 

While Dublin’s policing needs are being met with officers on overtime and from other areas of the country concerns have been raised about those officer’s ability to fund their time in the city. 

garda-outside-the-general-post-office-on-oconnell-street-in-dublin-following-violent-scenes-in-the-city-centre-on-thursday-evening-the-unrest-came-after-an-attack-on-parnell-square-east-where-five-p Public Order Unit gardaí on a post at the GPO on O'Connell Street, Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Gardaí who work away from their station are entitled to allowances to cover subsistence and travel expenses. This is the same across the civil and public service. 

However the GRA has said that gardaí are getting much less cash to fund their stay in the city than civil servants. 

“The subsistence rates currently being paid to members of An Garda Siochána are completely inadequate and do not come anywhere near to covering expenses being incurred.

“It is ridiculous that anyone would be expected to find accommodation and feed themselves anywhere in the country for €107.69 a day.

“This rate is 20% less that the rate that was being paid in 2008 when rates were reduced during the financial emergency. Gardaí are being paid rates from more than two decades ago.

“The rates are significantly lower than those paid to other public servants who incur overnight expenses,” O’Connor said. 

During a recent appearance at the Oireachtas Committee on Justice Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed the deployment and early attestation. 

“An attestation was due to take place on 15 January. We will now bring that forward to 15 December. There are 151 trainee gardaí in that cohort who will be ready for deployment on 16 December. We are currently working through where they will be allocated.

“In line with previous allocations, a considerable cohort will be assigned to the DMR, but other areas around the country will be getting an allocation as well.

“They will be returning to the Garda College on 14 January to complete their training – that is, from 14 to 24 January.

“They have some exams and other instruction to do. However, they will be ready for deployment on 16 December. That is the update,” he said.