Address by the Minister for Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TDOn the occasion of the Graduation of Reserve Members of An Garda Síochána at The Garda College, Templemore
23rd July 2015
Commissioner, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and particularly members of the Garda Reserve.One of the great things – maybe the very best thing – about being a Minister is that you get to be part of other people’s big days.
The achievement days.
The pride-filled days.
The days that – even without photographs – people remember for the rest of their lives.
This is one of those days.
Graduating as fully fledged members of the Garda Reserve is a major achievement, a wonderful source of pride to you and to your families.
You have come through rigorous training programme that is modelled on the training for full- time Gardaí. You’ve demonstrated your commitment to the community, by voluntarily giving your time and energy.
I am so honoured to be part of your celebration.
Since its inception in 2006 the Garda Reserve has become a valuable resource, supporting and adding value to the An Garda Síochána. It’s done that through individuals like each one of you.
But you do not get to be an outstanding member of the Garda Reserve on your own. The support of your friends and family is crucial. Good to see so many of them here today, proudly supporting you as I am sure they have done throughout your training programme. I think we should collectively thank them for all that help….!
Currently, 1,045 attested Reserve Gardaí enhance the work of An Garda Síochána, with a further 43 Reserves in training.
Quite a number of reserves have progressed to become full time members of An Garda Síochána. This afternoon alone, 19 Garda trainees will be attested who were previously members of the Garda Reserve. Some of you will follow them – and more power to you. More power to you if you value our police service so highly that you’re prepared to give up your leisure time to add value to it – and more power to you if, having demonstrated volunteerism at its best, you join the full-time service and build a career in it.
The Commissioner recently gave additional powers to Garda Reserves. In future, Garda Reserves will serve summonses and issue Fixed Charged Penalty Notices. Those additional powers and duties mean you now have a wider remit. That is important. It underlines how seriously the Reserve is taken.
But what is even more important is the mission each one of you carries, from this day forward.
You are part of the community and you will act as a direct link for An Garda Síochána into the community.
Your mission is to be approachable to that community. Always.
Your mission is to personify our police service every day. Your every interaction with the public must demonstrate professionalism and concern.
You must listen to the people you serve and learn from them.
You must reassure, protect and respect people.
It is an enormous and profoundly important mission, the mission that is laid out for you.
The Garda Reserve is representative of the new diverse Ireland in which we live and it shows: 62 of our Reserves are of 25 different nationalities.
Work is sometimes portrayed as a boring thing we have to do in order to survive. Nonsense. Work is its own reward. Work is an aspect of how we define ourselves, why we respect ourselves.
Your work as reserves will have boring moments, frightening moments, challenging moments. But at the end of each day, even the toughest day, you will know that your work helped in someone else’s life. That you belong to a service that protects people and guards the peace that allows communities to flourish.
I did mention the contribution of your friends and families.
I should also acknowledge the top-class instruction and guidance provided to you by the staff in the training college. What they do is – in my view – insufficiently valued. Members of the public remember the Guard who looked after the situation when a house was robbed or someone was injured in an accident. But they do not remember the people who trained those Guards. How could they?
Nonetheless, it is here – right here – that discipline, professionalism and clarity around your role in the community starts. It is also here – right here – that a refreshed Garda culture begins. That’s because you have learned lessons here, from the staff, that will come back to you next year or in ten years time, when you’re wondering “What’s the best thing to do here?”
The best thing to do in any situation may not be easy. It may not even be immediately clear. But it is what we should all aim at, every day, and I know the staff here emphasise that all the time.
I will end by thanking you for creating a day of celebration and pride for all of us, and by wishing you luck, happiness and achievement within the Garda Reserve.