194 'critical' top Garda promotions are delayed
Cabinet still to ratify posts despite Commissioner's warning of risks
The biggest single tranche of promotions in the history of the Garda force may be delayed despite Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan's stated opinion that they are 'critical vacancies' that need immediate filling.
Some 150 inspector, 26 superintendent and 18 chief superintendent positions are vacant, some for up to three years, and could remain unfilled for the rest of the summer.
Promotions from superintendent upwards still have to be ratified by Cabinet as the Government held back powers of promotion from the Policing Authority, which was set up in January precisely to take away governance of gardai from politicians.
The Garda was given a deadline of July 31 to make promotions before the Policing Authority takes over responsibility for all senior promotions.
Ms O'Sullivan told the authority at a public meeting last Thursday week that, in her view, the filling of the vacancies was a 'critical' issue and that failure to do so immediately - under her supervision and before the authority took responsibility for all senior promotions -constituted a "profound risk to the continued effective delivery of policing". However, with only two Cabinet meetings due to take place before the Dail adjourns on July 21, or thereabouts, the likelihood of the promotions being nodded through by the Government is reducing.
Sources in the Garda said it was expected, given the commissioner's comments to the authority, that the promotions would have been passed by Cabinet last Tuesday but this didn't happen.
Other garda sources said there are a number of issues concerning figures on the promotions list that may also be causing concern at senior government level.
One figure on the list is understood to be under three separate investigations involving the Garda Ombudsman. Another is under investigation internally over leaks to the media. Another figure was singled out for criticism in the report by Judge Kevin O'Higgins into the so-called whistleblower affair.
The positions, many of which have been vacant for years, carry salaries from around €60k to well over €100k.
The promotions list also comes at a unique time in the Garda management as it has been subjected to almost entirely critical reports for the past decade, since the 2005 Judge Freddie Morris report into minor corruption and mismanagement in Donegal.
Last December's report by the Garda Inspectorate found massive management problems in the force, including the widespread abuse of the computerised crime database, PULSE, and the mismanagement of investigations. Ms O'Sullivan, whose husband Superintendent Jim McGowan is also on the promotions list, told the last meeting of the Policing Authority that she was putting in place systems whereby all crimes entered into the PULSE system were to be overseen by an officer of at least superintendent rank.