GARDA management has for the first time invited PSNI officers to apply for permanent senior posts in the force here.
The move, which comes about as a consequence of the Good Friday Agreement, follows the signing of new regulations during the summer by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
These have paved the way for PSNI officers to apply for positions in the gardai as superintendents and chief superintendents.
Approval has been given by the Government for new competitions to fill a limited number of vacancies in those ranks.
The aim of the competitions is to fill some of the existing vacancies that were not covered by the last promotions -- and others that have been created since then.
Arrangements are already in place between the two police forces for short-term exchanges of personnel and for secondments.
The first garda officer to take up a secondment in Northern Ireland, Supt Paul Moran, has since returned to duty here after spending 18 months with the PSNI.
Under the new regulations, PSNI officers, who are successful in securing garda posts, will resign from their jobs in the North and will not be able to transfer their pensions with them.
If a garda officer successfully applies for a job with the PSNI, he or she can later seek re-admission to the garda force under the regulations, although at the moment that would be stymied by the moratorium on recruitment.
It is expected that less than half a dozen posts for chiefs will be filled from the latest competition and less than a dozen for superintendents.
This is the third and final phase of the planned movement of police personnel between the two forces and marks a step forward for the process after the setback in the secondment programme when applications from two garda chiefs to fill vacancies in the PSNI were rejected because they had not completed a course in strategic command at the police academy in Bramshill in Surrey.