Garda boss Nóirín O’Sullivan set to fill top vacancies

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is expected to bridge senior vacancies at the two most critical units in the security services following the appointment by the Government of three chief superintendents.

The three positions are among a total of 11 managers appointed by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

This was in response to renewed calls last Thursday by the commissioner for at least eight “critical vacancies” to be filled and for knock-on appointments to be made.

The commissioner may be questioned about her staffing situation when she appears before a public meeting of the Policing Authority this afternoon.

The authority will eventually be given responsibility by the Government for senior Garda appointments at the start of January.

Ms O’Sullivan is also expected to be quizzed about her use of a gmail account for work-related business and reassurances sought about what she used the service for and whether or not, as alleged in reports, it had been hacked.

Announcing the appointments on Tuesday, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the 11 promotions include the eight vacancies and three so-called consequential vacancies. The 11 appointments comprise one assistant commissioner, three chief superintendents and seven superintendents.

Currently, there are six vacancies across the organisation at chief superintendent level, including the Special Detective Unit, the Technical Bureau, the Traffic Bureau and Internal Affairs. This does not include the retirement of Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan, who, as reported in the Irish Examiner yesterday, leaves as head of Security and Intelligence in the coming weeks.

S&I, based in Garda HQ, is the intelligence-gathering arm of the Garda security service.

Since September, Chief Kirwan has also been covering the SDU after Detective Chief Superintendent John McMahon retired.

Two former detective superintendents in the SDU, Gerry Russell and Tom Maguire, were promoted to chief last September — to Dublin East and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

One of them may be transferred back into the SDU to take over, while the other could be transferred into S&I. They, in turn, would have to be replaced. But the commissioner has seven chief vacancies to fill.

The promoted assistant commissioner brings to eight the number of ACs. However, the rank is haemorrhaging experienced managers, a process that will escalate next year.

Head of Special Operations Derek Byrne left in October. Michael O’Sullivan, former head of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, leaves in February.

Jack Nolan, AC for Dublin, leaves in April and John O’Mahoney, AC for Crime & Security and former CAB boss, leaves before June.

During the summer, the commissioner called for the immediate appointment of 46 senior officers, describing them as “critical vacancies”. She initially got 28 and on Tuesday another 11, bringing her to 39 of the 46 needed.


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