100 new Garda recruits enter Templemore in first intake since 2009 – Minister for Justice promises seamless ongoing recruitment
In the first intake to the Garda College in Templemore, 100 new recruits entered training yesterdat, (Monday 15th September). Speaking at the induction, Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice & Equality, said that this marked a positive step forward for policing in Ireland and promised seamless ongoing recruitment after a period of financial constraint.
The Minister spoke of the need for Garda reform saying that she would be confronting deficiencies and challenging bad practices so that An Garda Síochána would be in a better position to meet the realities, challenges and expectations of 21st Century policing. Because of recent controversies, she told the new recruits that they would have to win the trust of Irish society each and every day, and must never assume it.
Below is the full draft of her speech.
Address by Minister at Garda ceremony in Templemore
Commissioner, Distinguished Guests, members of An Garda Síochána, colleagues –
Being here with you is a privilege and honour. The stars of today’s launch are the new recruits. I want to start by addressing them directly.
Today represents a major milestone in your lives. You will remember this event, not because of who was here or what was said (although, with luck, both will figure in your memories!) but because today is such a milestone.
By reaching this stage you have already proven yourselves.
You have come through a fiercely competitive selection process: almost 25,000 applications were processed by the Public Appointments Service. You have come through that – and it wasn’t easy.
You have successfully completed tests, assessments and interviews. You will probably never know any of the thousands who missed out, for whatever reason, on the chance to stand here beside you as recruit Gardaí on your first day of training. But knowing you were one of the few – one of the chosen few – what a source of pride to you and your families.
It is important to say that today is not just a significant occasion for you as new recruits. Today also represents a significant step for An Garda Síochána as a whole and for Irish society in general.
The recent years of fiscal correction have seen our public services constrained. Today, your recruitment marks a very public expression of how the tide has turned.
In addition, recent months have seen a negative focus placed on the administration and oversight of policing in this state. Today, your recruitment marks a positive step forward for policing in Ireland.
As Minister for Justice, I am determined to usher in many more such positive steps, to support the men and women of An Garda Síochána; who are widely trusted, doing a complex and constantly evolving task, providing an invaluable contribution to Irish life.
A contribution in terms of keeping our communities safe.
A contribution in terms of preserving the security of the State.
That is the task ahead of you.
For many of you, it will prove to be a highly challenging and dangerous task.
For all of you, it is not going to be boring. You might like it to be boring, now and again, but I wouldn’t bank on it, if I were you!
Being a member of An Garda Síochána is a bit like living that old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”
Because, no matter where you are stationed, you are at the sharp edge of domestic disputes, gangland crime, security threats, burglaries, rapes, murders.
And you won’t ever know the day that a gun will be turned on you or a car driven at you.
None of that will be a surprise to you. You would not have embarked on the difficult endeavour of becoming one of the very few accepted for training if you were not familiar with the challenges and traumas implicit in the job. You have chosen to put yourself in danger. The work carried out by An Garda Síochána, interrupting criminal activity and gangland crime, as I saw at first hand last week when I visited Roxboro Garda station in Limerick, requires courage.
Here’s the bad news. Courage isn’t enough.
The controversies of the last couple of years have pointed to an organisational reality: a vast organisation like An Garda Síochána is always on a journey. Its destination is to be the best possible police service the Irish state could require at any given time.
That demands constant review, constant rigorous challenge of the culture.
It requires that the trust of Irish society is won – anew – each and every day: never assumed.
As Minister, I am committed to putting in place, and where necessary reforming, the organisation, structures, practices and systems to support the men and women of An Garda Síochána to effectively deliver the best possible policing and security services for our communities and our country.
In some cases this may involve substantial changes.
In some cases this may involve confronting deficiencies and challenging bad practices.
We are starting with major changes to the administration and oversight of policing… and further changes will inevitably follow…
None of this is change for change’s sake.
Instead, it is change to ensure that the high quality and respected service that An Garda Síochána has provided for the last 90 years is continued and enhanced to better meet the realities, challenges and expectations of 21st Century policing.
That means national standards, consistent right across the country.
It means protocols and approaches implemented evenly by everybody.
As new recruits you will undergo a rigorous training programme under the direction of Chief Superintendent McMahon and all the staff here in the College. This training will provide you with the necessary foundation to allow you to progress and develop as Gardaí upholding the finest principles of honesty, accountability, respect and professionalism.
You are the first new recruits to be recruited by An Garda Síochána in recent times. You won’t be the last.
It is my intention that there will be seamless ongoing recruitment as we have committed, and I will be making further announcements before the end of the year.
But today is your day. A day when you continue a fine and proud tradition of service to all the people in Ireland.
You will be asked to serve in all walks of life and in all weathers (it won’t always be blue skies and sunshine as it is today) and you will be called upon to assist the public in a variety of aspects of their lives.
You will be doing that work in a changing environment demanding more openness and accountability. The training programme you are about to embark upon will prepare you for that environment.
Nobody here can begin to guess where you will be in ten, twenty or thirty years’ time.
But we can hope.
We can hope that when you look back at your time in An Garda Síochána, way, way down the line, you do it with pride – pride that you were part of a trusted organisation that was pivotal to neighbourhoods, communities and the nation.
We can hope that you look back with affection and nostalgia when you think of the teams you worked with and the mentors who helped you develop.
We can, above all, hope that you can put your hand on your heart and say “I served, as a sworn member of An Garda Síochána, with energy, commitment and passion. I never crossed an ethical line. And I never stayed silent when someone else did.”
If that is where you end up, you will have done well. I will seek to deliver the structures and resources to give you the support to achieve precisely that.
For today – congratulations and have a great career!