The Government yesterday appointed eleven senior officers in a bid to fill “critical vacancies” in the Garda Síochána.
The move comes as the country's most senior security and anti-terrorism chief retires in the coming weeks.
The imminent departure of Security & Intelligence boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan, is described as a “major loss” given his decades of experience in the security service.
Since September, he has also been covering the Special Detective Unit – the operational arm of the security services – after Detective Chief Superintendent John McMahon retired.
Yesterday, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald announced she had secured Government approval to appoint 11 senior officers: one to assistant commissioner; three to chief superintendent and seven to superintendent.
This included the eight “critical vacancies” highlighted by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan last Thursday and three knock-on vacancies that arise.
There are two chiefs currently on the list to be promoted to assistant commissioner, eight superintendents on the panel to be promoted to chief and eight inspectors on the list to be promoted to superintendent.
Excluding the imminent vacancy at Security & Intelligence, there were six chief superintendent vacancies – including the SDU, the Technical Bureau, the Traffic Bureau and Internal Affairs.
The Policing Authority said it had previously supported the filling of critical vacancies up to limit of the agreed strength. It said it looked forward to the transfer of the appointment function at the end of the year.
Last June, the commissioner called for the “immediate appointment” of 46 senior officers, describing them as “critical vacancies”.
Sources said Chief Supt Kirwan “cannot be replaced” given his work in the security services – along the border, in the SDU, the National Surveillance Unit and S&I – for almost 30 years.
“He has the best corporate knowledge of subversives and is highly regarded both internally and externally,” said one source.
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