Gardaí call for special taskforce to address ‘assaults and staff retention issues’

One of the country’s largest garda representative groups has called for the establishment of a special taskforce to address the “serious issues and concerns” affecting its members.

he Garda Representative Association (GRA) has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Justice Minister Simon Harris to formally request an urgent meeting to discuss the creation and formation of the taskforce. 

GRA interim general secretary, Philip McAnenly, said the communication followed a specially convened meeting of the GRA’s executive committee.

“An Garda Síochána today faces an unprecedented challenge with rising assaults on our members, failures within both the recruitment process and the retention of gardaí contributing to a situation of low morale among those we represent,” he said.

“We have outlined all these issues with our colleagues in government and have requested these meetings as a matter of extreme urgency.”

It comes as there have been a number of serious assaults on gardaí in recent months. 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris held a meeting with all four garda representative organisations, including the GRA, yesterday evening. 

Commissioner Harris said he gave assurances at the meeting that he would seek to procure enhanced and additional safety equipment for its members and provide them with further training.

He also condemned recent assaults on gardaí and reaffirmed his support for the introduction of body cams.

“Regrettably, already this year we have seen a number of serious assaults on gardaí,” Commissioner Harris said.

“While all gardaí accept policing has its risks, there can never be any excuse for these disgraceful attacks. It is not acceptable that a small minority in society – and it is only a small minority – feel that gardaí can be attacked just because they are carrying out their duties.”

On the issue of recruitment, he said the organisation had experienced a drop in numbers “as a result of Covid-19 restrictions on training”.

He said that in 2023 An Garda Síochána plans to have classes of approximately 200 recruits in the Garda College every 11 to 12 weeks.

He also confirmed that annual recruitment competitions for gardaí will go live in the first three months of 2023.

“I am looking forward to welcoming more garda recruits to the organisation throughout 2023 starting next month and I am confident that we will soon get back to a situation where garda numbers are growing,” he said.

“I have said this before, but I not only want to get to the current target of 15,000 gardaí, but given population growth, demographic change and the rapidly changing nature of crime, I believe there is a strong case for there to be more than 15,000 gardaí.”

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