Top garda posts to be shelved in wake of review
A cull in the number of senior posts in the ranks of the garda is expected to be sanctioned by the Government.
At the moment, three of the eight existing assistant commissioners are "doubling up" in their duties because vacancies have not been filled in the past couple of years.
But it is likely two of those appointments will be permanently shelved while the third will be sorted out as a result of civilianising the position of executive director of human resources.
There are also fears that the number of assistant commissioners will be reduced further as a result of a review being carried out by the Garda Inspectorate under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement.
The force currently has eight assistant commissioners to cover specialist areas and the six regions of the State.
The number was increased to 12 after a lengthy inquiry in 1994 by three senior officers following the murders of Imelda Riney and her son Liam, along with Father Joe Walsh.
All three victims were killed by Brendan O'Donnell, who died in jail three years later.
The report prepared by the officers, who were dubbed "the three wise men", recommended enhancing communications between garda divisions to overcome some difficulties that had emerged during the hunt for O'Donnell and the findings resulted in the creation of six regions to cover the State.
The move also decentralised some of the decision-making process and it became a central part of the top garda structures.
However, the vacancies have resulted in the officer in charge of Dublin also taking responsibility for traffic while another officer controls the south-east region and national strategy. A third is in charge of both northern and eastern divisions.
Despite the success of the report's findings, there are fears that each region will no longer have its own commissioner.
The review is also reported to be examining structures for superintendents that could result in separate officers being appointed to specifically look after issues such as operations and administration in an area rather than the present set-up where one officer is responsible for all matters in a district.
The appointment of Noirin O'Sullivan as interim garda commissioner has meant that the two deputy commissioner posts are currently unfilled. One deputy vacancy has existed since last August.