Garda security chief caught in promotion row
Published 27/11/2016 | 02:30
A senior garda regarded as the force's top international terrorism expert is one of the 'critical' officers whose promotion is being potentially blocked in the dispute between the Garda and the Policing Authority.
There is alarm in the Special Detective Unit and the crime and security section in Garda HQ over what they say is a serious depletion of senior staff engaged in countering international and domestic terrorism.
The force's two most senior crime and security officer, Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney and Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, are due to retire in the New Year as is the most senior 'operational' officer in the Crime and Security section, Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan. All are reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60.
There has been no head of the Special Detective Unit since the retirement of the last incumbent, Chief Superintendent John McMahon over a month ago, also due to age.
Now, sources say the officer who was on the promotion list to take over as new head of crime and security is one of those whose promotion to assistant commissioner rank is being blocked as responsibility for appointments shifts from Cabinet to the Policing Authority.
Chief Superintendent Michael O'Sullivan (no relation to the Assistant Commissioner of the same name) was one of six chiefs selected for promotion in a competition in May this year.
Four chief superintendents were promoted earlier this year followed by a fifth, Chief Superintendent Mick Finn from Cork, whose promotion was ratified by Cabinet last week.
However, there is now serious uncertainty over whether or not Chief Superintendent O'Sullivan, the senior liaison officer with Interpol as well as the US, British and other intelligence agencies, will have his promotion ratified.
The Cabinet only allowed a shortened list of promotions sought by Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, excluding the Crime and Security Chief Superintendent (again, no relation to Commissioner O'Sullivan).
One source said: "It's now confirmed that all promotions not approved by Cabinet which were conducted under the 2015 regulations will become void when the legislative provisions giving effect to the Policing Authority come into effect possibly in mid December this year.
"The Commissioner described the vacancies as critical, and the Minister agreed to the (Garda) Transformation Programme in July which the Commissioner is now trying to implement but can't without the people being in position.
When the Authority take this over it will take them up to six months to get the new promotion system up and running which leaves the Commissioner in limbo for that period.