The Garda Commissioner has told an Oireachtas Committee that there has been a 12% increase in the past 10 years in the number of gardaí stationed in Gaeltacht areas who can speak Irish.

Drew Harris is appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Irish Language following criticism of An Garda Síochána in a report by the Irish Language Commissioner.

Commissioner Harris told the committee this afternoon that measures are in place to ensure, as much as is possible, that gardai who are fluent in Irish are sent to stations in the Gaeltacht.

He said gardaí are recruiting Irish speakers, have given serving gardaí the opportunity to improve their skills in Irish, and are currently developing a series of Irish courses online with Gaelchultúir.

Commissioner Harris also said that he would chair an Irish Language Governance Group, which would ensure the importance of the language is recognised at all levels in the organisation.

He told the committee that An Garda Síochána needs a new approach to attract Irish speakers.

The commissioner said that just three out of 600 new members sworn in last year had a proficient standard of Irish.

He said he recognised the frustration of the Language Commissioner and that what the force had done over the past ten years has not worked.

Commissioner Harris also said that An Garda Síochána had set aside 10% of places for Irish language proficient applicants to be fast-tracked into the service, but that had not worked because the force not reaching that percentage.