Top garda posts remain vacant as promotions delayed
Almost half of the top garda posts around the country will lie vacant because of Government delays in sanctioning a limited list of promotions within the force.
The latest high-ranking officer to retire early from the force revealed his intentions yesterday. Assistant Commissioner Michael Feehan, who is charge of the Dublin metropolitan region and acting commander in the south-eastern region, signalled his departure before the end of next month.
This brings the number of vacancies among assistant commissioners to five, out of a total of 11. And it means that four out of the six posts for regional commanders will now be vacant.
The drain from the top ranks is also badly affecting chief superintendents, where there will be 19 vacancies out of a total of 51.
The biggest impact on the public will be felt in 36 towns and major city suburbs nationwide as their highest ranking district officers, superintendents, also depart from the force.
The Government's failure to deliver the limited list, promised last autumn, has created the biggest shortage in management ranks in decades.
Gaps in the top and mid ranks have resulted in a spate of officers "doubling up". The exodus has resulted in stop-gap emergency action being taken to prevent operational and administrative chaos, with a large number of officers now holding down two jobs on a temporary basis.
Even with limited promotions, a large number of vacancies will remain as the overall strength of the force is slimmed down to reach a target of 13,000 from a previous high of 14,500. The current strength is around 13,800.