More than 700 gardaí have retired this year

MORE than 700 gardaí have retired from the force this year and the number could swell further before the budget next month.

These include record high numbers of senior investigators whose experience is a massive loss to the force.

Most gardaí retiring are leaving early to avoid possible taxation on pension lump sums, loss of allowances and pay cuts in the budget.

Figures released by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern reveal that 708 gardaí have already retired or have declared their intention to retire as of November 6.

The majority are voluntary retirements and the rest are retirements on age grounds. Gardaí can retire early if they have completed 30 years of service and have reached the age of 50.

In descending order of rank, the retirements include:

* Three assistant commissioners.

* 12 chief superintendents.

* 26 superintendents.

* 31 inspectors.

* 166 sergeants.

* 466 gardaí.

The numbers of retirements this year are the highest in all ranks in the past 13 years and are around treble the retirement levels in recent years. The total to date of 708, compares to 259 in 2008 and 184 in 2007.

The figures show just 200 people were recruited into the force this year. It’s the last recruitment for the time being due to the moratorium on hiring in the public service.

Figures for 1997 to 2009 show that 8,890 people have been recruited into the gardaí, while 4,256 people have taken retirement.

Top layers of the force have been badly hit by retirements this year. At Assistant Commissioner (AC) rank, AC Eddie Rock, head of the Garda Traffic Corps, is the most recent to hand in a resignation letter.

He follows the retirement, on age grounds, of AC Al McHugh, who was in charge of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR), and AC Mick McCarthy, in charge of Crime and Security.

At chief superintendent rank, two impending retirements are in key specialist national units: Chief Supt Phil Kelly in the Special Detective Unit and Chief Supt Noel White in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Forthcoming retirements in the regions include Chief Supt Tony McNamara in Mayo and Chief Supt Gerry Mahon in Limerick.

They have added their names to a list that includes Chief Supt Liam Hayes in Cork, while Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park has been hit by the exodus of three chiefs: John Kelly in personnel, Gerry Blake in crime policy, and Brendan Corcoran, personal assistant to the commissioner.

Retirements earlier in the year included Chief Supt Pat Brehony at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI), Chief Supt Tim Maher of Crime and Security and Chief Supt Dave Roche, in charge of DMR East.

The detective branch at superintendent level has been hard hit, with recent retirements including Michael Byrne, in the Garda Technical Bureau, John Mulligan in DMR East and Jim Browne in Limerick.

Previous retirements included Det Supt PJ Durkan in Galway, Det Supt John McDermott at the Criminal Assets Bureau, Det Supt Eugene Gallagher at GBFI and in Dublin, Det Supt Denis Donegan (DMR South); Det Supt PJ Browne (DMR South Central) and Det Supt Hubert Collins (DMR West).

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