234. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of promotional positions vacant and remaining to be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12386/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware it is the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I am advised by the Commissioner that competitions for promotion to the rank of sergeant and inspector were held last year in order to bring the number in these ranks up to the full strength as agreed under the Employment Control Framework (ECF). The allocation of successful candidates is currently underway, with 300 newly promoted Sergeants and 113 new promoted Inspectors having been appointed to date.
Since 1 January 2017 the process of selecting and appointing members to the ranks of Assistant Commissioner, Chief Superintendent and Superintendent lies with the Policing Authority. The Authority held competitions for each of these ranks in 2017 and for Superintendent and Chief Superintendent ranks in 2018. A panel of candidates for both ranks was established by the Authority. The existence of panels ensures that as vacancies arise they can be filled without any undue delay. As Minister, I have no role in the selection and appointment of candidates to these ranks with the exception of members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) whose appointment by the Authority must be approved by the Government.
Appointments to the ranks of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner are made by Government upon the nomination of the Authority.
Appointments to the ranks of sergeant and inspector are a matter for the Commissioner under section 14 of Garda Síochána Act 2005.
In common with Government Departments, An Garda Síochána conducts internal promotional competitions as appropriate which affords staff opportunities to progress in their careers within the organisation if they so wish.
All positions at Executive Officer grade and above are potential promotional opportunities for Garda Staff. At this time, An Garda Síochána is recruiting through the Public Appointments Service for posts from Principal Officer level to Clerical Officer level. There is also currently an internal Executive Officer competition underway. It is planned to hold further internal competitions at Higher Executive Officer and Assistant Principal Officer level later this year. Panels created as a result of these competitions will be used to fill posts as approved by the Policing Authority and in accordance with centrally agreed sequences.
In addition, Garda Staff in An Garda Síochána are Civil Servants of the State and as such are entitled, if otherwise qualified, to participate in interdepartmental competitions for promotion or open competitions for any post within the Civil Service conducted by the Public Appointments Service.
For the Deputy's information I have set out in the table the Garda strength of each rank as compared to the ECF as of 31 January 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available, as supplied by the Garda Commissioner.
Strength of each rank as compared to the ECF as of 31 January 2019