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Saturday 17 March 2018

Gardaí in 'crisis' as interviews for much-needed sergeants cancelled

Young guards need leadership: Councillor Daithí de Róiste
Young guards need leadership: Councillor Daithí de Róiste

Robin Schiller

A shortage in mid-ranking gardaí is expected to descend into a "crisis" after the promotion process for Garda sergeants was cancelled.

In a directive circulated earlier this week, gardaí who applied for the rank of sergeant were informed the competitions had been postponed indefinitely.

Sources last night said the cancellation would have a knock-on effect on policing, and there is already a significant lack of mid-ranking officers across the country - particularly in the capital.

The notice circulated stated: "All garda to sergeant interviews from the March 1, 2018 are hereby postponed until further notice."

Garda management have also been told that gardaí who have been temporarily transferred to a different unit should be immediately informed of the postponement.

While senior gardaí are responsible for conducting the interview process in question, the panel is chosen by the Policing Authority, which also involves a civilian interviewer.

Sources said the reason for the postponement is that there are not enough people available to carry out the necessary interviews.

Chair of the Dublin Joint ­Policing Committee (JPC) Daithí de Róiste told the Irish Independent that senior gardaí have recently raised serious concerns about the current interview process.

The Fianna Fáil councillor also described the postponement as "shocking" and said the situation should be dealt with urgently.

"How can chiefs (superintendents) in one meeting tell us that there is a crisis in the ­gardaí in terms of a lack of ­garda sergeants, and that it is the biggest Garda crisis ­facing the capital, but two days ­later it is announced that the ­interviews are being postponed.

"Young guards coming out of Templemore need ­leadership, it's bad enough that we are ­already down some 900 rank-and-file gardaí," Cllr de Róiste said.

"The Policing Authority ­demanded that they play a role in deciding who carries out the interviews, and I expect them to deal with the issue as a matter of urgency. The buck stops with them," Cllr de Róiste added.

Last month it emerged that the country's chief superintendents were considering a boycott of the garda sergeants' competition panel over a pay dispute with the Government.

Chief superintendents play a highly important function in the promotion of middle-ranking officers, which includes the rank of sergeant and inspector.

Central to the Garda pay row is what senior officers say is an anomaly. They argue that when an officer is promoted from inspector to superintendent, they suffer a pay reduction of €4,000-€6,000.

Superintendents and their bosses say they received assurances in a "side deal" struck in November 2016 that this discrepancy would be resolved.

However, months later, they have now effectively pulled out of the new Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Superintendents also claim to have twice been refused access to the Labour Court - despite previous assurances from Government that access would be extended to all gardaí.

The organisation also said it was under the clear understanding that the deal struck by other Garda unions, the GRA and AGSI, in November 2016 would also apply to its members.

Irish Independent

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