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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Senior garda retires two days after big promotion

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Paul Williams

A SENIOR garda has shocked colleagues by announcing his retirement from the force just two days after he was officially promoted to the rank of superintendent.

Detective Inspector Rob Smyth, who is one of the most experienced drug squad officers in the country, was elevated to the new rank along with 34 other inspectors two weeks ago.

The promotions became official after they were ratified at the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting.

But colleagues and senior management were stunned when Mr Smyth announced his intention to retire two days later.

It is understood that the officer, who has specialised in the area of drug investigations for most of his over 30 years in the force, intends taking up a job in the private sector.

Through the years, Mr Smyth worked closely with the current Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, who held various ranks in the Drug Squad, which later became the Garda National Drug Unit (GNDU).

It is understood that Det Insp Smyth had gone up for promotion to superintendent on a number of occasions in the past.

He was seen as a vital cog in the operations of the GNDU since it was established in the late 1990s.

Det Insp Smyth has been in charge "on the ground" of many of the major garda operations, that led to significant drug seizures, over the past 15 years.

He had built up close contacts with anti drugs units in several police forces in the UK as well as Spain and the Netherlands and this working relationship was a key factor in many seizures.

He took control of Operation Shovel, in which gardai provided key information that led to a worldwide police crackdown on the international trafficking gang led by Irish criminal Christy Kinahan and was also in charge of garda activities that led to massive seizures last year.

Det Insp Smyth's departure means another inspector already on the promotion list will take up a role as superintendent sooner than expected.

A new competition for superintendents will be held in April to fill vacancies that will have emerged since the last competition was held.

Meanwhile, Commissioner O'Sullivan is currently putting the final touches to one of the biggest shake-ups in garda management for several years.

It is understood she will soon announce the movement of over 40 superintendents and chief superintendents as part of her plan to reinvigorate the force.

Irish Independent

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