Three of the Garda's most experienced assistant commissioners are to quit their jobs in the coming months.
Pat Leahy, who has been in charge of policing in Dublin for the past three years, is taking a severance package along with eight chief superintendents and 26 superintendents, as well as a senior civilian in the force.
Mr Leahy (57) will leave his position in April.
Another assistant commissioner, Michael O'Sullivan, is retiring early next month although this is not related to the severance deal. Mr O'Sullivan is head of the security and intelligence section at Garda headquarters.
The third assistant commissioner, John O'Driscoll, who has led the fight against gangland crime as head of the Garda's special crimes operation section, is retiring in June.
The loss of senior officers from the three most important portfolios at the rank in just a few months is a major blow to the force.
Its impact will be exacerbated by the loss of eight chief superintendents, who Garda Commissioner Drew Harris will not replace.
He intends to slash numbers in the top ranks under his wide-ranging plans to reform the structure of the force.
Some of the departing superintendents would have been involved in a reshuffle resulting from the loss of the assistant commissioners.
Mr Harris sent letters to 35 senior officers and the civilian executive director at the weekend, informing them that they had all been approved for the severance deal.
All of their jobs will be suppressed under the reorganisation plans.
The deal, which is estimated to cost €6.5m this year, will entitle the officers to six months' salary, along with their normal pension entitlements and lump sum payments, amounting to 150pc of their final salary on reaching 30 years' service.
Some of the group will leave the force in April and the rest will follow between then and September.
Mr Leahy, a native of Cork, never worked in his home county and spent most of his 38 years of Garda service in Dublin. He was in charge of the north inner city district for eight years. He was at the forefront of the investigation into the Kinahan-Hutch feud, which resulted in the jailing of a number of senior figures in organised crime and forced others to stay in hiding overseas.
In his earlier years, he was a member of the Tango squad that tackled then crime boss Martin Cahill - his first encounter with organised crime.
Mr Leahy also served with the United Nations in several missions overseas, including being part of the Garda team sent to Lebanon by the UN to investigate the murder of prime minister Rafic Hariri.
The aim of the severance package is to reduce the number of gardaí at senior management level and replace others with civilians, resulting in a serious loss of corporate knowledge in the force.
Some senior officers fear this loss of knowledge, experience and expertise, will take several years to replace. Those availing of the package will not be allowed to subsequently rejoin the Garda, either as sworn members or as civilian staff.
However, the sole civilian taking the deal will be replaced in his position.
Approval for the deal was granted to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan by the Cabinet in December and all who applied were accepted by the commissioner.