A SENIOR garda officer has been seconded to join the Police Service of Northern Ireland with full powers, including the right to carry a gun and wear a uniform.
The appointment has been approved by the Government and marks a major step forward in co-operation between the two forces.
Seconding police officers across the Border was one of a series of measures in an inter-government agreement signed in 2002.
The officer making the breakthrough is 46-year-old superintendent Paul Moran, who has 25 years of service with the gardai.
He told the Irish Independent last night: "This is a big challenge but I am really looking forward to the experience."
A decision on his specific appointment has yet to be finalised by the chief constable and garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy.
But it was likely that he would be assigned to a community relations role as he had a highly successful term in that area while in the garda.
Supt Moran is a son of former deputy garda commissioner P J Moran and, as an inspector in community relations, pioneered the expansion of the youth diversion scheme nationwide.
Promoted to superintendent, he moved to Tipperary town as district officer and then transferred to garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.
He is expected to take up his new post within the next four to six weeks.