The process of amalgamating garda regions has already begun as gardaí usher in the biggest restructuring of the force in the history of the State.
The new Operating Model will reduce the number of garda regions from six to four and the number of garda divisions from 28 to 19.
The latter involves the amalgamation of 18 divisions into nine. They 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 announcement means that the following towns will lose their divisional headquarters: Fermoy (Cork North), Thurles (Tipperary), Kilkenny, Naas (Kildare), Navan (Meath), Monaghan, Sligo, Bray (Wicklow) and Roscommon.
While the new headquarters of the merged Cork County Division (amalgamating Cork West and Cork North) will be in Macroom (in the current Cork West Division) once the new station there is built, the headquarters will be temporarily located in Bandon (also in the current Cork West Division).
The new headquarters of the other merged divisions are: Ennis (Clare-Tipperary); Waterford city (Waterford-Kilkenny/Carlow); Wexford (Wexford-Wicklow); Portlaoise (Laois/Offaly-Kildare); Mullingar (Westmeath-Meath); Drogheda (Louth-Cavan/Monaghan); Letterkenny (Donegal-Sligo/Leitrim) and Castlebar (Mayo-Roscommon/Longford).
Each division will be headed by a chief superintendent, as is currently the case. Commissioner Harris has said that superintendents, who will now have divisional responsibilities and will no longer be head of local districts, will not all be based in the new headquarters and will be dispersed.
The new divisional structure is mirrored by a new regional one, with three regions outside of Dublin, each headed by an assistant commissioner.
The new North Western Region will have its headquarters in Murrough, Galway, and the new position of regional chief superintendent (an effective deputy of the assistant commissioner) will be based in Monaghan.
The Eastern Region headquarters will be in Kilkenny, where the regional chief supt will also be based.
The Southern Region headquarters will be in Anglesea, Cork city, where the regional chief supt will also be located.
The new Operating Model has been criticised to varying degrees by the four garda representative associations, with the senior ranks at superintendent and chief superintendent levels most concerned.
But the changes have been backed by the Garda Inspectorate and the Policing Authority.
The statement from Garda HQ said the new Operating Model had already commenced the amalgamation of regions and will be introduced into Divisions on a phased basis.
But it said: “Divisions in the border Region are unlikely to see any significant change until further clarity is available on Brexit.”
Commissioner Harris said the new Operating Model will see larger Divisions with more resources.
“It will deliver increased Garda visibility in communities, as well more localised services. Resources will be strongly focused on community policing.
“Each Division will be provided with a Detective Superintendent who along with trained investigators in specialist areas will be responsible for local crime investigation. Complex or highly technical crimes will generally be dealt with at national level,” Mr Harris said.