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Garda to accept applications from people aged up to 50 but fitness test unchanged

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A Garda recruitment campaign to be launched next month will accept applications from people up to the age of 50.

The previous upper age limit to join An Garda Síochána stood at 35, but the Labour Court found that this was discriminatory.

A proposal to slacken fitness standards to widen the number of possible candidates also failed, however.

The Cabinet approved increasing the age limit, and people between the ages of 18 and 50 will be able to apply to join the gardaí in January.

A Government spokesman said: “All future Garda trainees will be required to meet the same medical and fitness conditions as current trainees and standards will be maintained irrespective of age.”

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan welcomed the increase in the age and suggested people in their 30s and 40s seeking a career change should be targeted amid the current “recruitment crisis”.

He suggested there should be a review of the current fitness test which he believes is “too demanding”.

He said: “A more sensible approach… would be to design the test to ascertain the candidate’s current level of fitness and an intensive programme be tailored accordingly on admission, should the recruit exhibit a baseline level of fitness.”

The Government spokesman said the test would not be made any easier as “it’s there for a reason”.

The change in the application rules for the Garda was among a number of items brought to Cabinet by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

The Government approved a number of reappointments to the Policing Authority up to the end of December 2024 or until the authority is dissolved.

There are plans to create a new policing oversight system as part of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill. The Policing Authority and Garda Inspectorate are to be replaced by a new organisation.

Barrister Dr Elaine Byrne has been reappointed as a member of the authority and also been named as its chairwoman. The term of the current chair, Bob Collins, is to expire at the end of the year.

Others who have been reappointed as authority members are Paul Mageean, Dr Deborah Donnelly, Dr Donal De Buitléir, Anthony Harbison and Dr Jane Mulcahy.

The requirement for reappointments is said to have arisen from the need for continuity in police oversight while the new statutory oversight and governance framework is being put in place.

Separately, Ms McEntee briefed colleagues on plans for independent oversight of legal professional education and training.

The goal is to develop independent accreditation, competency-based standards, increased competition and equality of opportunity.

The Legal Standards Regulatory Authority has developed a set of recommendations including the establishment of a statutory legal practitioner education and training committee to develop reforms.

There is to be a report produced on barriers to entry and progression in the legal professions.

The work is to be completed within 15 months of the establishment of the committee.

Meanwhile. the Government approved a plan to open formal negotiations with the United Arab Emirates on new extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties.

The Irish Times previously reported that senior Garda officers were concerned at the failed efforts to extradite Dublin criminals from places such as Dubai, including individuals who were named by the Irish and American authorities as being senior figures in the Kinahan cartel.

The Cabinet was told that bilateral treaties with Ireland would be of significant support in tackling organised crime and transnational drug-trafficking gangs.

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