File image of a Garda Reserve graduation in Templemore.

Labour criticise Government and Commissioner for ‘completely inaccurate’ garda recruit figures

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday said between 700 and 800 new recruits are entering Templemore this year, but the figure to date is 633.

LABOUR TD ALAN Kelly has said the Taoiseach and the Garda Commissioner have provided “completely inaccurate” figures on the number of gardaí going through Templemore.

He also claimed that Government is engaged in “a pathetic attempt to bolster the numbers” by the “unprecedented move to bring the start date for the next batch of new entrants” to the end of December, as opposed to January. 

In a statement to the Dáil yesterday on policing, protests and public order in the wake of rioting in Dublin last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there are “between 700 and 800 new recruits entering the Garda College this year”.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee referenced the same figure in her statement and added: “We have budgeted for between 800 and 1,000 new gardaí next year.”

During today’s Justice Committee on Engagement on Policing Matters, Labour TD Alan Kelly pressed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on these figures.

Kelly asked Commissioner Harris for “clarity” on the figures, but Harris said that he didn’t have the exact figures to hand and that he “came prepared for evidence about last Thursday”.

Kelly responded: “You’re hardly telling me that you’ve come to the Justice Committee not knowing how many trainees will have participated in Templemore between the first of January and the end of December this year?”

When Harris again said that he didn’t have the exact figures, Kelly asked for this figure to be provided to the nearest ten, and then to the nearest 50, adding that the lack of an answer was “not acceptable”.

Harris then estimated the number to be between 700 and 750, noting that there is “still a further entry to the college to happen” at the end of December.

The Garda Commission noted that the 700-750 figure he provided did not include December’s intake, which is still being finalised.

drew Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at today's Committee

Kelly then remarked that an intake at the end of December “has never happened before”.

Harris was then handed a laptop which had the exact figures, and after a brief delay in calculating these figures, it was revealed that the number of trainees to have gone through Templemore so far this year is 633, with a further induction day in December to come.

In a statement following the Justice Committee, Kelly said it is “unbelievable that the Taoiseach and Justice Minister can’t put an exact figure on the number of gardaí we have going through Templemore”.

Kelly added that the decision to bring the start date for the next batch of new entrants to the 27 or 28 of December is a “pathetic attempt to bolster numbers.”

“I understand that there is now an unprecedented move to bring the start date for the next batch of new entrants to 27/28 December this year, rather than early January,” said Kelly.

former-irish-labour-party-leader-alan-kelly-centre-speaking-to-the-media-outside-leinster-house-dublin-after-resigning-on-wednesday-evening-mr-kelly-said-that-his-parliamentary-colleagues-had-tol File image of Labour's Alan Kelly Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

“We can all see this for what it is. A pathetic attempt by Government to bolster the numbers.”

He also said that the “real figure of 663 and shows the crisis we have when it comes to recruitment in the gardaí”.

“It also raises serious questions as to why the Minister for Justice allowed 700-800 to be put on the record of the Dáil when I presume she knew they were not accurate,” said Kelly.