Reshuffle of 50 top gardai as promotions are cleared
MORE than 50 senior gardai are to be moved in the biggest reshuffle among the top-ranking officers of the force in almost a decade.
The changes follow the long-awaited government approval of 33 promotions in the top brass. But the Cabinet decision yesterday still leaves 39 unfilled vacancies in the three top ranks.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter announced Cabinet approval for two new assistant commissioners, eight chief superintendents and 23 superintendents.
However, a further two assistant commissioners, 11 chiefs and 26 superintendent posts remain vacant.
Mr Shatter said he had also received the go-ahead for consequential vacancies to be filled at inspector and sergeant level.
He said the appointments reflected the commitment of the Government to maintain the supervisory and management ranks in the force at the highest level possible.
Commissioner Martin Callinan last night appointed his two new assistants, Gerry Phillips and Donal O Cualain, to take over as commanders in the eastern and southern regions respectively. They will be based in Mullingar and Cork.
The two vacant posts for a chief and a detective superintendent in the national fraud bureau are also among those being filled immediately, while several existing personnel are being transferred to accommodate those who have been working long distances from home for a number of years.
As a result of a reduction in the overall strength of the force, it is expected that a number of supervisory posts will be merged.
However, Mr Shatter will be under pressure to ensure that the rest of the vacancies are filled in the coming months.
He had promised initially that the appointments would be made by the end of October but ran into strong opposition because of the clampdown on public service promotions.
The minister gave the go-ahead to the garda authorities to proceed with interviews for promotions to the top three ranks and this resulted in lists totalling 51 senior officers being drawn up.
However, Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Dara Calleary accusing Mr Shatter of failing to deal comprehensively with gaping holes in the senior ranks.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors also said it was extremely disappointed at the announcement, adding that it left frontline supervisory ranks depleting rapidly as more people retired.