Gardaí Recruitment: Addressing the Retirement Crisis

Jim O'Callaghan discusses Gardaí recruitment challenges due to upcoming retirements.

In a compelling analysis originally by John Drennan for Irish News, a stark warning emerges about An Garda Síochána’s future. Nearly half of the force faces retirement by 2028, posing a significant threat to the government’s expansion plans. This scenario sees over 6,400 officers nearing retirement, highlighting the acute need for a more aggressive recruitment and retention strategy.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee reveals data pointing to a sharp increase in retirements. This situation demands an urgent and comprehensive recruitment plan. Amid this backdrop, Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan offers a forward-looking solution. He advocates for enhancing training facilities and tapping into the Garda Reserve to mitigate the impending manpower crunch.

O’Callaghan’s proactive measures spotlight the necessity for swift action to preserve the force’s strength and efficacy. He champions the expansion of training and recruitment to confront the looming shortage of Garda personnel head-on, underlining the importance of ensuring public safety through sustained force levels.

Key Insights and Actions:

  • Retirement Crisis: With nearly 50% of Gardaí eligible for retirement soon, a robust response is crucial.
  • Recruitment Strategy: Justice Minister McEntee’s data calls for a reinforced recruitment drive.
  • O’Callaghan’s Proposal: Expanding training and utilizing the Garda Reserve are key to replenishing ranks.
  • Public Safety Priority: Maintaining force levels is essential for community security.

Enhancing Gardaí Recruitment:

Immediate efforts to boost Gardaí numbers are vital. Incorporating O’Callaghan’s suggestions into policy could mark a turning point in addressing this critical challenge.

Fianna Fáil Representatives Urge Expansion of ‘Safe’ Nations List

Jim O'Callaghan. Photo by Tom Burke

Tánaiste Micheál Martin is receiving calls to include more countries as “safe” in efforts to intensify the crackdown on illegal immigration. An EU document mentioned by backbencher Jim O’Callaghan at a confidential party meeting indicates that Ireland counts among the EU nations with the least number of countries considered safe.

Martin has promised his peers he will review the strategies of other EU nations before responding to the party.

A total of 16 countries within the EU recognize a larger number of countries as safe compared to Ireland. Countries at the forefront, like the Netherlands, which lists 33 countries, and Cyprus, with 29, outpace Ireland.

Ireland currently identifies ten countries as safe, with the Government having added two more recently.

The report from the EU Agency for Asylum reveals that only four states list fewer countries as safe than Ireland, with 22 member states now utilizing these safe country lists.

“Several other European countries maintain longer lists of countries they consider safe, and Ireland ought to contemplate adding more countries to its roster,”

Mr. O’Callaghan stated.

“This designation procedure is integral to the international protection framework and will aid in accelerating applications, thus ensuring those deserving of international protection can receive a favorable decision promptly.”

Call for ‘no ID’ fines

Jim O Callaghan on Airlines Fines - Article by John Drennan

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan has called for tougher sanctions against airlines that allow passengers into the State without having proper identification.

Figures provided to Deputy ‘Callaghan, left, in response to parliamentary queries show the Garda National Immigration Bureau issued 958 fines to passengers who failed to present proper ID to airlines in 2022.

A further 918 fines were issued last year up until the end of November: However, Justice Minister Helen McEntee refused to say how many airlines were fined for allowing passengers into the country.

Dubin Bay South TD Mr. ‘Callaghan warned:

“If this law is frequently being broken then the fines on airlines may need to be increased.”

Airlines fined €2.5m in last two years for flying in passengers without travel documents

Jim O’Callaghan TD, who received the data in answer to a parliamentary question, queried why the airlines breaching the law were not identified. Picture: Damien Storan/PA  

Airlines arriving into Ireland have been fined more than €2.5m over the last two years over passengers failing to have valid travel documents upon arrival in the State.

New data released by the Department of Justice shows that there were 918 carrier liability fines issued up to the end of November last year, costing airlines a total of €1,476,000.

Tackling Violence Against Women – Fianna Fáil policy document – June 2022

We need law change so murderers like evil Jozef Puska plead guilty to spare victims’ families unnecessary trial pain

IRELAND’S parole laws should be amended to encourage murderers like evil Jozef Puska to plead guilty, it has been claimed.

Twisted Puska was caged for life on Friday for the brutal killing of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore, Co Offaly, in January 2022.

Puska had denied the murder and continued to protest his innocence over the course of the trial despite evidence that he had made confessions to Gardai, his DNA was under Ashling’s fingernails and his bike was found at the scene. CCTV also showed him on the prowl.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said his life sentence was “richly deserved”. He said Puska’s evidence had been “indescribable”.

Fianna Fail TD Jim O’Callaghan has now called on the Justice Minister to tweak parole laws to spare families like Ashling’s the pain of an unnecessary trial.

He told The Irish Sun: “Policymakers need to identify some method of encouraging people accused of murder to plead guilty.

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Governments should pick judges, not unelected and unaccountable bodies

Jim O'Callaghan

The President’s reference of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill to the Supreme Court is only the 16th time it has happened since the Constitution came into operation in 1937.

Alongside the power to refuse a dissolution of Dáil Éireann, the power to refer a bill to the Supreme Court is one of two significant political powers held by the President.

President Higgins’ reference requires the Supreme Court to consider whether the bill, which seeks to overhaul the process for appointing judges, is repugnant to the Constitution.

Before considering the contentious aspects of the bill, it is first important to understand what the Constitution says about the appointment of judges.

Although Article 35 provides that judges shall be appointed by the President, Article 13 qualifies this power by stating that this and other powers conferred on the President by the Constitution “shall be exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Government”.

It distinguishes these powers from other powers that are exercisable by the President in his absolute discretion or after consultation with the Council of State or on the advice or nomination of any other person or body.

The referred bill proposes the establishment of a new statutory body, to be known as the Judicial Appointments Commission, that will recommend to the Minister for Justice eligible candidates for judicial office.

The bill provides that in advising the President in relation to the appointment of an eligible person to a judicial office, the government shall only consider for appointment those persons who have been recommended by the commission.

Accordingly, the commission, a creation of the legislature, will recommend candidates to the Minister for Justice; and the government when advising the President on who should be appointed will only be allowed to advise for appointment those recommended by the commission.

The system that operates at present is that the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board makes recommendations to the minister, and government is then required to first consider for appointment those recommended.

The difference is that under the new provision, the government can only advise the President to appoint persons approved by the new commission. What is a recommendation under the current system will become a direction under the proposed new system.

The real significance of the proposed change, however, is the restriction that will be imposed on government as to who cannot be appointed as opposed to who can be appointed. If an eligible candidate is not on the commission’s list, government cannot advise the President to appoint that candidate.

Those who say the bill is unconstitutional will contend that this change constitutes an impermissible interference in the constitutional right of the government to advise on the appointment of judges.

They will also argue that the legislature has encroached on powers belonging to the executive branch by giving power to the commission, a creation of the legislature, to decide which eligible candidates can and cannot be appointed as judges.

It will be suggested that if the legislature can establish a body that can restrict government in advising which eligible candidates can be appointed to judicial office, including judges being appointed to higher judicial offices, then further restrictions on the advice to be provided by government to the President could also be imposed by the legislature. The greater the legislative restrictions, the less likely the advice to the President can be accurately described as the advice of government.

The argument in favour of constitutionality has the advantage that the bill enjoys the presumption of constitutionality. This argument will also highlight that the restriction in Article 13 should be read as a restriction on the President, not the government; and that the government is entitled to set up a statutory framework in order to improve the advice it is required to give the President on such an important issue. Although the Constitution does not expressly state that the appointment of judges may be regulated in accordance with law, it will be contended that implicit in the power of the government to confer advice is the entitlement to formulate that advice within a statutory framework.

No one can be certain how the Supreme Court will interpret the constitutionality of any legislation. However, our constitutional architecture is clear and vests legal responsibility for the appointment of judges, although formally fulfilled by the President, in the government. If the legislature can block government from appointing a favoured eligible person, then there appears no reason why further restrictions on government could not be imposed by the legislature. This suggests that there is no limit to the role that the legislature can play in an appointment process in which, under the Constitution, it has no role. In short, the legislature could make the role of the government in appointing judges as much of a formality as that of the President.

It would be a brave person who will predict the Supreme Court’s decision but this is a reference and problem that could and should have been avoided by simply amending section 51 of the bill to require government to first consider, rather than only consider, the names recommended by the commission.

The drafters of our Constitution deserve credit for devising a process for judicial appointments that has operated very successfully and has provided the country with a fiercely independent judiciary. We should be careful about transferring ultimate responsibility for that process from an elected and accountable government to an unelected and unaccountable statutory body.

Domestic Violence Register

“Today is a day of hope. Our sister, our absolutely amazing sister has her voice heard. Her voice is gone, but we will never stop fighting for Jennifer.”

So today in the Seanad, I introduced my Bill in terms of establishing a domestic violence register. This is an important day and very much informed by the work that my colleague, Deputy Jim O’Callaghan has been doing and also by Jason Poole. On the 17th of April 2021.

Jason’s sister, Jennifer was very sadly murdered by a former partner. Now it turned out afterwards that her former partner had actually been in jail for two years for a previous domestic violence assault. If Jennifer had been aware of this, there is no doubt that she would be alive today.

So what I have introduced is the Domestic Violence Register, which will work in the same way as a Sexual Offenders Register where if somebody is convicted of domestic violence or coercive control, that they go on a register and it is their duty and responsibility to inform Garda where they live in a country where we’ve had 256 deaths, violent deaths of women since 1996, 87% of those by men known to them.

It’s absolutely crucial that we do what we can to protect more women from dying violently like this.

Upper age limit for garda entry to rise ‘significantly’ amid recruitment boost

The current upper age limit of 35 for joining An Garda Síochána will “significantly increase” under radical fresh proposals.

The new age ceiling is thought likely to land between 45 and 50 years as all efforts are made to boost the uniformed ranks.

The force needs additional personnel across a variety of specialist positions, in addition to requiring regular officers for patrol and station purposes.