Another top garda quits as force left depleted
Another top post in the Garda is to become vacant following the decision by one of the most experienced crime fighters in the force to retire aged 54.
Tony Quilter, who is an assistant commissioner, is currently in charge of the force's southern region.
But he has also been in charge of three of the Garda's key specialist sections.
He has handed in his notice and is due to leave the force early in the new year when he is expected to take over a policing organisation overseas.
His departure will add to the increasing shortage of officers in the top ranks.
This is partly due to the clampdown on promotions over the past five years but has been exacerbated by the early retirement of some officers.
The Government hopes that the vacancy for garda commissioner will be filled by the end of the year.
This position has been vacant since the departure of Martin Callinan in controversial circumstances last March.
In the meantime, Noirin O'Sullivan has been acting commissioner with the duties of the two deputies also being filled by assistant commissioners on a temporary basis.
The ranks of the assistants are already badly depleted, even before Mr Quilter leaves, and it is not clear if the Government intends to fill all of them, whenever the financial go-ahead is given to make more top appointments.
A report being prepared by the Garda Inspectorate is likely to influence the Government's decision on the appointments, with almost all of the existing assistants currently "doubling up" to cover the gaps in the rank.
Mr Quilter has spent much of his career in the South and has been involved in investigating all of the major drug seizures in the region since 1993.
Those seizures include the massive Dunlough Bay and Dances with Waves cocaine shipments, off the Cork coastline, in 2007 and 2008.
He was also in charge of the undercover garda operation, which scuppered the plans of associates of the notorious Dundon-McCarthy gang to import rocket launchers and an arsenal of heavy weaponry.
He also played a key role in the investigation into laundering part of the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery carried out by the Provisional IRA in Belfast in December 2004..
After he was promoted to detective chief superintendent, he was placed in charge of the technical bureau at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.
Mr Quilter was subsequently transferred to take over the Garda national drugs unit and for a six-month spell was also leading the national bureau of criminal investigation.
During his time with the drugs unit, he led the operation, which resulted in the seizure of cocaine, with a street value of more than €29m, following seizures in Dublin and Kildare.
He spent a total of five years with the national units before being promoted to assistant commissioner in 2012.