O'Sullivan backed on fight to fill 17 key Garda posts
The Policing Authority has come out in support of a plea by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to fill major gaps in senior management ranks.
Seventeen officers have already been chosen to fill the vacant posts which include assistant commissioner, chief superintendent and superintendent.
Their names are on lists that are due to expire by the end of the year. If the promotions are not submitted to the Government for approval before then by Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, the group will face the prospect of undergoing the selection competition all over again.
Responsibility for Garda promotions is scheduled to be handed over to the Policing Authority by December 31.
But in the meantime there has been no planning for a transition phase to cater for officers currently awaiting promotion.
The number of vacancies in the top ranks continues to grow towards crisis level.
After the retirement of Derek Byrne last month, three vacancies exist for ACs, with a further three due in February, April and June next year.
The Policing Authority last night reiterated its position that critical posts should be filled, up to the limit of agreed strengths.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny hit back at accusations from Fianna Fáil that the situation exposed a "sense of dysfunctionality in how issues are handled in respect of An Garda Síochána under the justice portfolio".
Micheál Martin said the latest controversy "damages morale in the force".
"While there is always a transition between the old and the new law, it is the Government's responsibility to appoint in accordance with the Act that is the law of the land.
"We have paralysis on the appointment of judges and we now have paralysis and indecision on the appointment of gardaí to very senior and sensitive positions."
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny publicly distanced himself from Transport Minister Shane Ross over comments about judges needing reminding of their oath. In an unusual move, Mr Kenny openly rebuked his minister in the Dáil chamber after it was put to him that Mr Ross was undermining the judiciary.
The minister wants a new declaration of interests for judges because "they might forget their oath" to administer justice without fear or favour.
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin put it to the Taoiseach that the statements were concerning and inappropriate.
Responding, Mr Kenny said he had the "utmost respect" for members of the judiciary.
"I do not accept that members of the judiciary would forget their judicial oath in respect of decisions that they make," he said. "In that respect, I dissociate myself from the remarks of Minister Ross."