There should be no retirement age in the Gardaí, a former detective has said.
It emerged today that the upper age limit of 35 for joining the force could increase significantly under new proposals to boost recruitment.
It means An Garda Síochána could soon be welcoming new members aged between 45 and 50-years-old.
The force has been seriously struggling with recruitment and retention in recent years, with stations all over the country experiencing a drop in numbers.
Retired detective Pat Marry told The Pat Kenny Show he would welcome such proposals.
"You would have people applying who have maybe life experience in other facets of employment," he said.
"They would bring a lot of positivity to the Gardaí.
"If you have people applying at, let's say, 40 years of age, they have had other jobs, maybe raised a family - they will have life experience which you can't have when you join when you're 18.
"You're more in a position to deal with the public in a more empathic manner."
Mr Marry said criticism of people who may join at 50 is unjustified.
"People may have skillsets when they join at 50 years of age that they can be incorporating into other aspects of police life.
"Maybe someone is into dogs... it could be dog training, there could be others that maybe are very good planners and operational people.
"That's something for Garda management to work out."
'Leave it open-ended'
Mr Marry said looking at the British model, the ceiling could actually be removed completely.
"You have to be over 18, but there's no restriction on when you retire," he said.
"Maybe they could look at that and say leave it open-ended?
"You could stay on beyond 60 or that, which a lot of people when they do retire - like myself - they go into another employment.
"It might be [a] benefit to leave it open and let the person decide themselves."
Mr Marry said the idea of younger and older recruits is a good mix.
"I joined when I was 25, and I seen guys who were just nearly out of school, and they were training.
"They didn't have that maturity, and you could see that the little bit of power went to their head - you could see it in them.
"Maturity is a big plus for the Guards and a big plus for people joining.
"I think elderly people joining and walking side-by-side with someone younger - they can depart a lot of life's knowledge to them," he added.
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