An elite armed Garda unit for Dublin is being launched today without a dedicated boss at its helm because of persistent vacancies, writes Cormac O'Keeffe of the Irish Examiner.
The 60-strong Armed Support Unit (ASU) was set up in response to the Kinahan-Hutch feud which erupted this year. It is supposed to be directed by the chief super-intendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) office— but that position is vacant.
Instead, the chief super- intendent of the DMR East Division is double-jobbing as chief for the unit.
Sources have said that the position in the DMR office is a full-time role, as is the DMR East position, and requires a person at the rank of chief superintendent to coordinate operations with the region’s six chief superintendents and six detective superintendents.
“All chiefs in the division operate under the assistant commissioner for Dublin and the chief of the DMR is the eyes and ears of the assistant commissioner, coordinating all regional resources, including the ASU,” said one senior source.
“A superintendent in the DMR can’t tell chiefs in the region what to do. You need a chief rank for the detective superintendents but also the chief superintendents.”
The ASU is being launched by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald at Garda Headquarters this afternoon.
The ASU, comprising 55 gardaí and five sergeants, will provide a 24/7 overt intervention force in Dublin.
The vacancy at the ASU has become embroiled in an escalating three-way dispute between the gardaí, the Government and the Policing Authority on continuing senior vacancies.
There are six officers, five superintendents and one chief superintendent, on a list for promotion — but this list will expire at the end of the month, when the promotion process is handed over by the Department of Justice to the Policing Authority.
The five superintendents have written to the Tánaiste saying they had a “legitimate expectation” of promotion and that the failure to do so will “cast aspersions” on their characters and affect their careers.
They claim there are eight chief vacancies, with three more due by February. They have taken legal advice on their options.
The last Cabinet meeting of the year, in which the promotions could be ratified, is due to be held next Tuesday.