Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is expected to decide in the coming weeks what garda divisions are to lose their headquarters under the new Garda restructuring strategy.
Under the revamp, 18 garda divisions are being merged into nine “super divisions” with one headquarters for the amalgamated area.
This means that nine of the divisions will lose their existing headquarters.
The divisions being merged are:
- Cork North and Cork West;
- Clare and Tipperary;
- Mayo and Roscommon/Longford;
- Donegal and Sligo/Leitrim;
- Cavan/Monaghan and Louth;
- Meath and Westmeath;
- Laois/Offaly and Kildare;
- Wicklow and Wexford;
- Kilkenny/Carlow and Waterford.
The Irish Examiner understands that the commissioner told his regional assistant commissioners that he will be making his decision soon on the location of the headquarters in the merged divisions and needed to see their recommendations on the matter.
It is thought that the commissioner's decision will be made very shortly, possibly by the end of the month.
The direction to the three relevant assistant commissioners was made at the Garda Senior Leadership Team meeting last Friday.
It is thought the assistant commissioners will consult with their chief superintendents and superintendents.
Issues that will be factored in include crime and population levels, geographic location and accommodation facilities.
As previously reported in the Irish Examiner, both incoming and outgoing chairmen of joint policing committees in areas due to be amalgamated are fearful of losing their current divisional headquarters to the neighbouring divisions.
While there were mixed views on the new Operational Plan launched by Commissioner Harris, almost all of the chairmen want to retain their divisional headquarters, citing the operational and symbolic benefits that come with it.
Speaking yesterday, Fianna Fáil councillor and incoming chair of Dundalk Joint Policing Committee, Sean Kelly, said JPCs would like to be involved in informing the commissioner's decision-making: “It would make a lot more sense for JPCs to be involved."
Louth is merging with the Cavan/Monaghan Division and there are arguments that Monaghan town would, from a geographic point of view, make more sense as a divisional headquarters.
But Cllr Kelly, who is supportive of the two divisions being merged, said the headquarters should be in Dundalk, given the population in Louth and the greater presence of organised crime. He said the three JPCs in Louth are meeting next week and said it is now “imperative” they make their views known to the commissioner.
The commissioner's move on the divisional headquarters is happening earlier than some people expected and there is also some indication he might begin the process of merging divisions this year.
He has already said he wants to have most of the amalgamations done by the end of next year.
The commissioner has said that the changes will mean an "enhanced local service", with more inspectors, sergeants and gardaí.
He has also said he intends to visit the country's JPCs this autumn.
The JPC chairs are meeting the Policing Authority towards the end of October.