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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

FactCheck: Did five garda recruits resign immediately after starting training?

A tweet from an independent Senator claims that five garda recruits immediately quit after beginning training.

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A TWEET FROM an Independent senator contains a number of false and inaccurate claims about garda recruitment and retention numbers.

On Wednesday 2 August Senator Sharon Keogan responded to a tweet from the official Twitter account of An Garda Siochána.

The tweet in question contained a number of images as well as information about those currently training at the Garda College in Templemore. 

“Our Commissioner, Drew Harris was at the Garda College in Templemore today to check-in with all those currently in training,” the tweet reads.

“Intake 231 – Stage 3. Intake 233 – Stage 1. These weeks in class can pass quickly and there is a lot to cover academically.”

In response to this tweet, Senator Keogan tweeted:

“Garda trainee intake picture from last Sunday [30 July].

“As of today 5 have already resigned. Not sure if the intake figure 231 is correct or fake news.

How many will fallout before the completion of Stage 1 training?  The Garda force is in chaos. Better conditions needed urgently to address rising crime rates and demoralised police force.
Keogan wrote that five trainee gardaí had resigned in the three days when she said the photo was taken (Sunday 30 July) and the day she tweeted (Wednesday 2 August).

The facts

Three pictures went along with the original tweet from the gardaí’s official account. 

The images showed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to a gathered assembly of trainee garda.

Some of the recruits in question wore civilian clothing while some were dressed in uniform. The pictures were taken Wednesday 2 August, and not on Sunday 30 July as suggested by the senator.

The Journal contacted gardaí to clarify the numbers of recruits who recently started training with the force. A spokesperson said that gardaí do not comment on third party remarks.

However, gardaí clarified a number of figures in relation to trainee recruits that contradict Senator Keogan’s original tweet.

Firstly, Senator Keogan stated that she is not “sure if the intake figure 231 is correct or fake news”, which seemed to suggest that 231 Garda recruits had begun training.

However, the number 231 refers to the group names of garda recruits. For example, 231 means the first group of 2023, while 233 refers to the third group of recruits for 2023. 

Secondly, Senator Keogan’s statement that five gardaí have resigned since beginning training is contradicted by garda figures.

A spokesperson said that a total of 174 garda recruits started training on Monday 31 July 2023 as part of “Intake 233″.

Of this number, one has since resigned for personal reasons. As of this week, 173 Garda recruits remain in training from Intake 233.

TheJournal contacted Senator Keogan’s office with the available garda figures and asked whether the Senator wanted to clarify or amend her statement. Her secretarial assistant informed us that she was not available for comment, and directed us instead to a second tweet by Senator Keogan.

Below her original tweet, Senator Keogan responded to a now-deleted tweet from a separate account adding more context:

Might well be. Heard 180 were due to start. Only 176 turned up and already 5 have packed up and gone home. Thank you for the clarification Tom.

However, the clarification from Senator Keogan still contradicts official garda figures.

Rumours and misinformation

In recent weeks, rumours have been circulating on messaging apps in relation to issues with garda recruitment. 

In a number of messages seen by The Journal, statements are made about Garda recruits quitting or being held back from progressing from training for various reasons.

For example, one recruit was said to quit because they refused to shave their “man bun”, while five others were apparently held back because of tattoos on their hands. Other recent graduates were said to have quit as they had to be stationed in Dublin. 

However, gardaí have said that they are aware of “significant misinformation” that is circling on messaging apps in relation to recruitment and retention within the force.

It is unclear what the source of Senator Keogan’s information was as she did not respond to requests for comment.

Gardaí are facing issues recruiting enough new members to the force. The government has set a target of 1,000 additional gardaí by the end of the year. However, there are concerns that this target will not be reached.

An article published in TheJournal last November found that there had been an increase in the number of trainee gardaí resigning before their probationary period ends.

Over 50 trainees quit their position in 2021, according to figures which were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

 The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here. 

With reporting form Niall O’Connor