A SERIES of promotions at senior ranks in the garda force are to be announced by the Government within the next month, it was learned last night.
The move was revealed as another group of high-ranking officers told garda headquarters at the weekend they intended to retire before changes to their pensions were implemented early in the new year.
An assistant commissioner indicated he was leaving the job about three years early, while another is expected to follow in a few weeks and a third vacancy at that rank already exists following a retirement in the summer.
Three candidates to fill the vacancies have already been selected but are awaiting approval from the Government.
Another chief superintendent and four more superintendents also said they were handing in their papers at the weekend.
Senior security sources told the Irish Independent last night Justice Minister Alan Shatter would get permission to break the moratorium on promotions in the force in the coming weeks and would bring a list of names before the Cabinet for approval.
It is not yet clear how many promotions will be sanctioned.
This will determine whether a crisis in the management of the force can be averted as a result of the large number of senior personnel preparing to retire.
Many would have had to retire anyway within the next year on age grounds, but have brought forward the date to avoid the pension changes.
However, others have several years left and one superintendent is getting out although he is only 51 years old.
Earlier this year, Mr Shatter was given permission to allow Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan run promotion competitions at all ranks of the force.
As a result of these competitions, panels would be established from which future promotions might be made.
Interviews have now been completed for three senior ranks, with a list of potential chief superintendents to be published possibly later this week, while a similar list for new superintendents will be available in October.
Government approval is dependant on a decision by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin for a relaxing of the moratorium.
It is understood Mr Shatter also intends to make greater use of civilians to fill desk jobs and put gardai into the frontline to help cope with the overall numbers being cut in line with the EU/IMF deal.
Last week, the Irish Independent revealed that almost one in six senior officers, or more than 30 personnel, would be leaving the force by Christmas.
Apart from the three assistant commissioners, it is expected at least eight chief superintendents will leave by February, while there will be at least 16 superintendents also retiring by then.