Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has been refused 18 of the 46 senior managers she requested from the Government.
The Government on Wednesday agreed to the promotion of 28 Garda bosses: 10 chief superintendents and 18 superintendents.
The decision followed a letter from the commissioner to the Department of Justice at the end of June requesting the “immediate appointment” of 46 senior managers.
They comprised: n Two assistant commissioners; n 18 chief superintendents; n 26 superintendents;
Ms O’Sullivan went public regarding her request at a meeting with the Policing Authority on June 30.
She said these were “critical vacancies” to ensure the leadership was there to provide the management and accountability structures raised by the recent O’Higgins report and other inquiries.
She said she had high- lighted the “profound risks” to the effective delivery of policing and security services from the gaps. Senior garda sources welcomed Wednesday’s appointments but said the shortfall would pose difficulties.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing that the full amount requested by the commissioner was not approved,” said one source.
“If the commissioner said she needs 46 senior positions filled, she needs 46 positions filled,” a second source said.
He said the figures (see graphic) she was quoting were from the Garda Rank Order — statutory regulations issued by the minister for justice setting the maximum strength of ranks following consultation with the commissioner.
In addition, it set the Garda rank at 12,500 (currently 10,339), and an overall strength of 15,610.
The Programme for Government sets a total strength of 15,000 gardaí.
The last rank order was issued in 2009, and replaced by the employee control framework, set up in austerity times, which brought total Garda figures down from 14,500 to just over 12,000.
With the restart of recruitment in September 2014, the total strength is now almost 12,810.
With Wednesday’s promotions, it shows that 13% of approved chief superintendent positions are still vacant along with 8% of superintendent positions.
Senior gardaí are most worried about the shortage of inspectors and assistant commissioners (despite the appointment of four assistant commissioners last March) with a third of the 12 approved positions unfilled.
“Some assistant commissioners are doing three jobs, driving all around the country. We are really badly stretched,” said one source.
The greatest shortage is at inspector rank, with 38% of the positions vacant. A competition is ongoing. “In Bailieliboro [the centre of Sgt Maurice McCabe’s complaints] they didn’t have an inspector and look what happened,” said the source.
At the Policing Authority meeting, chair Josephine Feehily backed the commissioner, but said her figures seemed “on the high side”.
She said the authority’s main concern was that the appointments function be transferred from the Government to the authority. There is the possibility that more promotions could be agreed in Cabinet next week.
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