Garda chief coy about locations of new 'super' divisions
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is keeping his cards close to his chest on the location of the headquarters for his new "super" divisions, which will involve mergers of existing structures.
The locations are expected to become a big political issue in the coming months, particularly in rural Ireland, as local TDs and councillors fight to retain headquarters in their constituencies.
Following the publication of the outline of his plan, the commissioner addressed his chiefs and superintendents at separate meetings in the Garda College in Templemore yesterday.
But he disclosed few details of what he has in mind, although the reduction in divisions from 28 to 19 had implications for most of the officers attending the meetings.
Only 10 existing divisions will remain untouched, including the six in the Dublin region, with the remaining 18 reduced to nine.
The changes mean some chief superintendents will have to move from their divisional seats and face either accepting a severance package or being shifted to an administrative post.
A huge overhaul of the work practice of officers at superintendent rank is also in the pipeline with an increase in inspectors and sergeants planned to fill the gaps.
However, there is no overall increase in the strength of the force, apart from what was already sanctioned, and how the additional promotions will affect the number of rank-and-file gardaí on the ground has not been explained.
Garda management say an extra 1,800 gardaí will be available for frontline duties, based largely on an extended programme of "civilianisation".
Previous commissioners have all cast doubt on the theory that large numbers can be moved from desk jobs to frontline operations. But the biggest problem for the Government if the plan is implemented, is the political fall-out in the "super" divisions covering several counties.
Questions about those issues were raised by officers yesterday, but several sources said very little fresh information emerged.