NEW Justice Minister Alan Shatter may change the upper age limit for joining An Garda Siochana.
He has revealed that the cut-off age for new applicants may be extended beyond 35.
Currently all new recruits have to enter the force before hitting that age -- it was as low as 26 as recently as 2004.
Mr Shatter has noted that there are many reasons why an upper age-limit is in place, but these may be overlooked under certain circumstances.
Mr Shatter says the age-limit was "set having regard to equality legislation" but also took into account other issues such as the cost of training.
As part of the application process the need for recruits to serve "for a sufficient period of time as full members of the service to recoup this cost" is taken into consideration".
Mr Shatter also said that there are "operational requirements of the service in terms of having an age profile appropriate to the physical demands placed on members in the course of their duty".
Despite this, in reply to questions from Fine Gael's Michael Creed, he said: "Consideration is being given to changing the upper age limit, in limited circumstances, in a way which would be beneficial to An Garda Siochana."
In the past a man had to be 5ft 9ins to join, a women had to be 5ft 5ins, but that rule was abolished some years ago.
Applicants must now pass a rigorous physical assessment and medical tests.
They must also have obtained a leaving cert grade of at B3 at foundation level math, a qualifying grade in two languages and D3 at ordinary level in not less than two other subjects.
Meanwhile pressure may soon come on the new minister to take in trainee gardai as the moratorium on recruitment has hit the force badly.
It is estimated that last year more nearly 400 members either retired or applied to retire. Last June, the then minister, Dermot Ahern, promised to open the doors of Templemore Garda Training College to 100 new recruits.