Garda Superintendents have heard how public confidence in the An Garda Síochána has risen over the past two years from 67% to 85%. Garda Commissioner Nórín O’ Sullivan was addressing delegates at the annual Association of Garda Superintendents conference in Kildare this week.
Commissioner O’ Sullivan said that while every facet of the force had been examined in 41 reports over the past two years, resulting in over 780 recommendations arising from them, she said the gardai have come through difficult times having been ‘punched drunk from being pilloried’ in recent times.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’ Sullivan Pic: (RTÉ News)
‘Operation Thor’ has led to a reduction in burglaries by over a third in the past year alone, however, the emerging crime and security threats faced by the gardaí is radically different from this time last year. According to the commissioner, An Garda Síochána is about twenty years behind in terms of technological advances in many ways.
The Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) rejected previous contention by the Garda Inspectorate that 1,500 gardai could be released from desk duties and made available to patrol the streets, of which the Inspectorate said 300 members would be immediate.
Noel Cunningham, President of the AGS said the roles occupied by those officers are pivotal in areas such as communication and resources and would only have to be replaced by people equally skilled at doing their jobs.
Additional measures promised by the previous government to resource a police force which has been deprived of recruitment and investment over the past eight years has been welcomed by the AGS. Superintendents believe it is critical that the incoming administration not only follows through on these commitments but increases them.
The Association says that 800 gardai would need to be recruited every year for the next few years, to fill the gaps left by the 300 or so members that leave every year.
Supt Cunningham said, while the promised modernisation programme is welcome, it needs to be properly managed and could take a number of years before the benefits of new technology and equipment is realised. The AGS said there should be more intelligence-led targeted operations such as ‘Operation Thor’ to deal with rural crime, dissident and subversive activity and organised criminal gangs.