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Hundreds of new cars for gardai

The Garda fleet is to get 305 new cars before the end of the year, it has been confirmed.

Some five million euro is being spent on new Fords and Hyundais for the force over the next two months while another 4m euro will be invested in new vehicles in the first half of next year.

Alan Shatter, Justice Minister, said 18m euro will have been spent on new vehicles for gardai since 2012.

"A great deal of work has taken place to ensure that these vehicles could be made available quickly and that the tender process was completed without delay," he said.

"It is a clear indication of my commitment to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, An Garda Siochana are provided with sufficient resources to enable them to deliver an effective and efficient policing service."

The 9m euro allocation for the Garda fleet was announced on budget day.

Department of Justice figures have shown that Garda vehicle numbers dropped from 2,814 in 2009 to 2,474 last year.

Mr Shatter said 133 new vehicles had already been added to the fleet this year. More than 200 new vehicles were added last year.

But there has been criticism over the fleet management by Garda representative bodies after dozens of rural and isolated Garda stations were closed and officers told to patrol in vehicles.

The Department of Justice said all the new vehicles would be cars and "in line with the current Garda operational requirements".

Garda cars have to be retired once they reach 300,000km for safety reasons.

The car investment is on top of promises to reopen Garda recruitment in the coming weeks with student officers entering the Garda College in Templemore for the first time since recruitment was frozen in 2009.

Later, the Department of Justice said that all the new Ford and Hyundai cars being bought for the Garda fleet would either be saloon or estate vehicles.

A spokeswoman said it was not possible to disclose a breakdown of the model being bought for the force at this stage.

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