Districts to be merged in garda cost-cutting measure
A series of garda districts around the country are to be merged to streamline policing and reduce the number of senior officers, it was revealed last night.
Further civilianisation is also being planned as the force is remodelled under its new slimmed down structures.
The moves were revealed last night after the Government confirmed the immediate appointments of one assistant commissioner, four chiefs and 13 superintendents.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has also been given the go-ahead for eight additional senior promotions and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan will now organise competitions to select candidates for those vacancies.
Mr Callinan last night put the finishing touches to a major reshuffle of his top ranks, involving 32 key moves, following the cabinet decision on the promotions.
A reduction in senior officers will be carried out but will be offset by district mergers. Two mergers, joining Abbeyleix and Portlaoise and combining Ashbourne and Laytown, have already been completed.
But it is expected that a number of smaller districts will be combined in the coming months.
These moves are being carried out in the context of a smaller pool of superintendents, arising from the downsizing of the force from 14,500 to around 13,500 at present and ultimately 13,000.
Further civilianisation will be implemented in areas such as information technology and telecommunications with a superintendent being left in each area but the removal of chiefs and garda staff.
Following the reshuffle the head of the national drugs unit, Tony Quilter, is the new assistant commissioner for the southern region, while Gerry Phillips will have responsibility for the eastern region and traffic, Jack Nolan for the south-east and strategic planning, with Donal O Cualain moving back to the west.
The new head of drugs will be John McMahon, with former press officer John Gilligan taking over as a chief in the liaison and protection section, John Scanlon taking charge in Portlaoise, Aidan Glacken in Navan, Brendan Mangan moving out of the commissioner's office to Crumlin and being replaced there by Orla McPartlin, and Pat Glavin will be given responsibility for professional standards and internal affairs.
Twenty-one changes are taking place at superintendent level, mostly for district officers, as a result of the promotions and consequent transfers.
Meanwhile, John Parker, president of the Garda Representative Association, last night called for the urgent recruitment of gardai, who provide front line policing.
"Policing is an investment, not an expense," he said. "If numbers aren't available on the streets to prevent crime, then we will pay a heavy price in the future.
"The force is being systematically reduced to 13,000, yet just five years ago all political parties agreed the need for 16,000 officers to effectively police our community," Mr Parker said.
He said Ireland was the only country in the EU with no police officers in training and this was clearly not sustainable.