No gardai recruitment for 18 months
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has admitted there could be no new gardai patrolling the streets for three and a half years.
Mr Shatter said he regrets the suspension of garda recruitment, but plans to lift the moratorium and resume rehiring in the next 18 months.
The new intake would then undergo two years training with An Garda Siochana.
The minister spoke as the latest 126 gardai graduated at a ceremony at the Garda College in Templemore.
"It is true that there is a temporary pause in the recruitment of Garda trainees," he said.
"I regret that and I want to see that pause limited to as short a period as possible. I recognise the value of the energy and vitality brought into the force by each new intake of recruits.
"But the financial and economic legacy left to this Government, and left to the country, leave no choice."
Mr Shatter said as part of the agreement entered into by the last Government with the EU and the IMF sharp reductions must be made in public expenditure and numbers employed in the public service.
"The reality is that, as part of the commitments they made, the last Government undertook to reduce Garda numbers to 13,500 by the end of this year, and to 13,000 by the end of 2014," he continued.
"A further complication is that the rate of this reduction is almost entirely dependent on the numbers of Garda members voluntarily retiring, and that is another factor that will have to be taken into account."
The minister also insisted Templemore would not close down and commended staff who would continue to offer a variety of courses to gardai.
Elsewhere Mr Shatter said he wanted reform in An Garda Siochana with administrative duties carried out by civilian staff, so highly trained gardai are freed to tackle crime.
"I want to see reform of prosecution and judicial case management systems, so that gardai do not waste time waiting in court far longer than is necessary," he added.
"I know that these problems have been spoken about before, but they must be and will be addressed. The crisis that has been brought about means that necessary reforms cannot be long-fingered any more. There must be change, there must be reform."
A dozen gardai were awarded during the graduation service for showing exceptional courage and heroism involving risk to life in the execution of duty.
"It is absolutely right that these Garda members should have their bravery publicly acknowledged, and their courage and commitment to duty is a wonderful reminder to every member graduating today of the best traditions of the Garda Siochana," Mr Shatter said.
© Press Association