Justice Minister & Garda Commissioner address new Garda Students

The first group of students to begin training in the Garda College since 2009 were addressed by the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD and the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on Monday Sept 15th  at the Garda College in Templemore, Co. Tipperary.

The 100 students are made up of 18 females and 82 males. 24 of the students are former Garda Reserve members.  A total of 22 Irish counties are accounted for in the group, with Dublin providing the largest number of students with 26. Eight counties provide one student each, while there are two students with current addresses outside of the Republic of Ireland, in Suffolk and London in the UK. All students are Irish citizens. The students range in age from 20 to 33.

Many of the students hold various degrees, in Law, Business, Biotechnology, Social Studies, Environmental Engineering and Sociology, and masters in Criminology and Human Rights in Criminal Justice, and the working background of the garda students also varies, from engineers, fitness instructors, psychiatric nurses, carpenters and plumbers.

During the course of their training, students will undertake a BA in Applied Policing.  This programme was developed following a comprehensive review of Garda training in 2009. The BA is an accelerated programme with the students carrying out three phases of learning, each of which is the equivalent of an academic year. It is accredited by the University of Limerick.

Chief Supt Ann-Marie McMahon said it was a very significant day for both An Garda Siochana and the Garda College.  “The rigorous training that the students will be facing will equip them with the tools they need to provide the professional, efficient policing service that is expected by Irish communities today. Our training programme has been updated to focus on problem solving, and reflects the daily duties and responsibilities of Gardai. It will ensure that the students will be trained to a standard befitting a 21st century police service.”

Addressing the students, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan said the recruitment process was a very unusual one, with 25,000 people applying to join the force, however, with just 100 positions available, it was one of the strongest and toughest competitions in recent years. The Commissioner wished well, those of the 25,000 who didn’t succeed in getting through on this occasion, but described those who did as the brightest, the best and the elite.

This positive and good news story for the Garda Force was overshadowed by new revelations over the past weekend regarding the penalty point’s controversy.  The Commissioner denied that the entire force is ill-disciplined. She also said the new policy system which came in June is being strictly implemented. She said “Yes, new information has been brought to our notice and we will look at that, and we are taking it with extreme seriousness, but I don’t think it should in anyway detract from the excellent work that the men and women of An Garda Siochana do every single day. The support that they provide to the community, and also the support that the community provide to An Garda Siochana”

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD said “Today is an opportunity to say thank you to the force for all of the work that’s done, and to welcome the new students. This is a positive day for An Garda Siochana and it’s also a sign of our economic recovery”

By Declan Keogh

The Training Programme
The full programme will be completed in three phases. Phase 1, over 32 weeks, phase 2 over 34 weeks and phase 3 over 38 weeks.

The methodologies employed by the BA in Applied Policing are designed to ensure the students learn in a consistent and coherent manner, while additionally addressing the issue of the ‘theory/practice’ gap identified by the 2009 training review.

A blended learning approach has been adopted, utilising hybrid
Problem Based Learning (PBL), Work Based Learning (WBL) and competency
development methodologies.

Phase I of the programme, delivered in the Garda College over
32 weeks, adopts a hybrid PBL approach to learning.  Trainees learn in
small groups through engagement with realistic policing scenarios.

On successful completion of Phase I trainees will be conferred with full policing powers to enable full engagement with WBL phases of the programme as Probationer Gardaí.

Phase II is of 34 weeks duration and is delivered in policing
divisions through WBL.  During the first 17 weeks, probationers ‘assist’
a trained peer tutor Garda, followed by 17 weeks of being ‘assisted’
by a tutor.

During Phase III, delivered over 38 weeks between the Garda
College and operational divisions, probationers act autonomously in
their role as members of An Garda Síochána and follow a more integrated
programme of professional competency learning and development under
supervision.  Probationers will also follow a programme of formal

Emergency Services Open Day proves a great success

An Open Day showcasing the equipment, resources, vehicles and capabilities of Ireland’s Emergency, Voluntary and Security services was held on Saturday 6th September at the Royal Hospital Kilmanham n Dublin. The event was organised by FESSEF, the Frontline Emergency and Security Services Eire Forum. This forum was recently formed out of the Security and Emergency Services Forum.

Report by: Declan Keogh
Almost every frontline and voluntary service was represented at the open day, from the Gardai, HSE National Ambulance Service and Local Authority Fire Brigade to the Defence Forces, the Coast Guard and RNLI, the Order of Malta, Civil Defence, St. John Ambulance Service and even the Irish Prison Service. Among those attending were the veteran services.

The Open Day began with a parade, and as members of the public ventured into the area, they were greeted by every aspect of the emergency services.

The idea for the open day came about earlier this year, following a meeting between FESSEF and the heads of all the services involved. Their aim was to provide a platform whereby emergency, voluntary and security services would interact, relate and display to the public, what each service does and the service t provided.

Seamus O’Neill, Chairperson, FESSEF said “Today is the foundation going forward, for a much greater event of its kind, and for an event like today which has had very little publicity, it’s been a great turnout, from the fabulous parade to all the exhibitions. And today is a chance for all the services to say thank you to the public for all that they have done for them and for he services to let the public get up close to them to see all the equipment they have”

The various stands and vehicles proved a great attraction to many of the visitors, some of whom even looked to be handcuffed, fingerprinted and hosed down!. The Gardai, Dublin Fire Brigade and the National Ambulance Service provided a large presence with many of their services and vehicles on display.

The Gardai provided a variety of impressive and interactive stands and exhibits for the event. A Garda from the Public Order unit was kited out in the ublic order gear that would be required for that roe, the Garda Mounted Unit were there, and they too were kitted out with the gear they wear in public order situations, the Kilmanham based Garda Dog Unit, the Technical Bureau and Fingerprint section, a Garda Command & Control Unit and the Garda Community Relations stand was also at the event. Superintendent Kevin Gralton of Mountjoy, Fitzgibbon Street District thanked all the gardai who volunteered to participate on the day and said the main focus of the day was Community relations and interaction.

“What’s behind this event is to open up the Garda and emergency services to the public, and with a large display of most of the equipment that we could put on display that was available, with the idea to approach it from a community policing point of view, to show the community what we do, why we do it and how it’s done. It’s an interaction with the community and a transparency approach”

The Local Authority Fire Service was represented by Dublin Fire Brigade, who showcased the various vehicles, tools and equipment that they use on a daily basis as part of their role as fire-fighters. The Dublin Fire Brigades turn-table ladder which took part in the parade prior to the opening was called away for operational duties; however, other vehicles such as the Incident Command Unit, DFB are Foam Unit, the District Officer vehicle and also the new Advanced Paramedic vehicle. Greg O’Dwyer, Third Officer with Dublin Fire Brigade said “This vehicle carries specific equipment, the same and above what an ambulance carries in the line of drugs and rapid intervention for advanced life support systems also”

As part of the exhibitions on the day, there was an opportunity to show how the equipment works and for what reason. Members of public and other services got a close-up and first hand view of what Fire and Ambulance service personnel are faced with at the scene of a crash, and the difficulties they may encounter. Delta 22, a Fire Tender from Dolphins Barn and a Rescue Tender attended this particular exercise along with an Advanced Paramedic and an Emergency Ambulance from the National Ambulance Service.  Greg O’Dwyer explains how they treat and care for a casualty in a crash. “We are going to cut up a car, show the equipment that we use, and you will see that we cu  the car away from the patient, we don’t take the patient out of the car, and this is done so as to avoid any additional movement of the patient”

As the thundering sounds of an overhead rescue helicopter grew louder, the exhibition area quickly emptied for a time as members and visitors made their way to the viewing area on the grounds of the Royal Hospital to watch the Dublin based Irish Coast Guard helicopter land, before being allowed to view the Sikorsky S-92 up close. Those in attendance were also treated to a second incoming aircraft, the Garda Air Support Unit. This helicopter is piloted by a member of the Irish Air Corps, and has two Garda members on board.

The Defence Forces Bomb Disposal Unit attracted alot of interest with its ‘Hobo’, the army’s bomb disposal robot. This unit is called to many chemical incidents, such as anthrax, botox and ricin. It is mainly called out to Pipe Bomb disposals, and last week, the Defence Forces were called out to its 100th Pipe Bomb disposal call this year already.

The Voluntary Services played a key role at the FESSEF open day. The Order of Malta had a number of vehicles on display, including their Community Care mini buses, a self drive vehicle for wheelchair users and their new mobile Medical Treatment Unit. The OMAC Cadets were also on hand o speak to new and interested volunteers about their own experiences.

Dublin Civil Defence, under the command of Civil Defence Officer James McConnell  also had a large display of ambulances, their Command & Control Unit, Catering Unit, an Auxiliary Fire Tender, the Bike Unit and a Boat. The Civil Defence is one of the main principal agencies to assist the frontline emergency services under the Major Emergency Framework.

The St. John Ambulance used the open day to demonstrate to young members of the public the basics of CPR and resuscitation and many of the organisations young cadets were on hand to provide further information to potential recruits to the voluntary organisation.

Overall, an estimated 300 members of the frontline emergency, voluntary and security services from all sectors attended this open day. FESSEF Chairperson Seamus O’ Neill hopes it will become an annual event, and not just in Dublin. “There will be a meeting following this to evaluate how today went and to look forward to see how we can bring this forward and spread it”

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