The Garda Commissioner is set to widen the powers and duties of the Garda Reserve.
RTÉ News has learned that, after an internal review of the 1,000 member Garda Reserve by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, it has been decided to extend their powers to include issuing penalty points and serving summons to motorists and the power to seize vehicles.
Members of the voluntary unpaid body will also be issued with TETRA radios when going on duty.
Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald confirmed in the Dáil this morning that the Commissioner is finalising arrangements to extend the powers so that the Reserve "can make a greater contribution to policing."
She said that recruitment to the Garda Reserve slowed down last year as the Public Appointments Service was focused on recruitment to An Garda Síochána.
However, there will be "more accelerated recruitment to the Garda Reserve" this year.
RTÉ has learned that under the new proposals, members of a voluntary unpaid body are also set to be given additional training in areas such as domestic violence, child protection, conflict resolution, garda policy on bullying and harassment, and Out of Vehicle Safety Training (OVST).
The Garda Reserve was established under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and members have certain garda powers while on duty and perform their policing duties as determined by the Commissioner, under the supervision of and supported by regular garda members.
Among the existing duties of Garda Reserve members are station duties, monitoring CCTV, foot patrol accompanied by full-time Garda members, and providing cordons at major events such as festivals and sporting events.
Some people have used the Garda Reserve as a stepping-stone for entry into the force.
Minister Fitzgerald told the Dáil this morning that "23 members of the first group who entered the college in Templemore had been members of the Garda Reserve.
"Some 17 former members of the Garda Reserve were in the second batch of 100 new recruits, while 13 former members were in the third batch of 100 new recruits."
Minister Fitzgerald has welcomed confirmation from the Commissioner that she is finalising arrangements for the extension of powers and facilities to the Garda Reserve.
Minister Fitzgerald told the Dáil today that as of 31 December 2014, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 1,124 Garda Reserve members with a further 48 in training.
There are 12,799 members in An Garda Síochána.