Increasing rate of Garda retirements cause for concern

GARDA retirements are running at twice the projected rate, new figures suggest.

Figures obtained by the Irish Examiner show that around 400 gardaí up to rank of inspector have retired as of 8 July this year.

This includes 323 at garda rank, 53 sergeants and 21 inspectors. It doesn’t include senior ranks, such as superintendents and chief superintendents. It is understood that Garda Headquarters projected that in the region of 440 gardaí would retire in the course of the entire year. If the current rate of retirements continue there could be nearly double that figure.

Most gardaí are leaving the force because of fears that pensions and gratuities (retirement lump sums) will be taxed in the next budget.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) yesterday said it was “extremely worried” at the rate of retirements from the Garda Síochána, which was double that of recent years.

“The reduction in the numbers of supervisors is making it extremely difficult to maintain a policing service to the public,” said AGSI general secretary Joe Dirwan.

“In addition, a large number of units are operating without the experience and knowledge of a supervising sergeant and we have serious worries that so many gardaí, and particularly young gardaí, are working in today’s dangerous environment without such supervision,” said Mr Dirwan.

“We are concerned that they may be exposed to serious risk as a result.”

He said that a large number of promotional positions remain unfilled as a result of the public service embargo and that there was now a “serious shortfall” in Garda managers throughout the country.

Earlier this week, the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) expressed concern that the high number of superintendents retiring would worsen following the imminent publication of the Commission on Taxation. This expert body is examining the issue of taxing gratuity payments and its recommendations will be taken on board by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in the next budget.

An AGS spokesman said: “The rank of superintendent has to date been affected by Government cutbacks and the lack of promotional opportunities.

“A growing number of our members sadly are choosing to leave the force as a result. We await the report of the Commission on Taxation, which undoubtedly will have a further impact on the rank.”

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