1. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if approval will be forthcoming for proposed chief superintendent appointments in An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40593/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): On 22 November, at the request of the Garda Commissioner, the Government made 11 appointments to the senior ranks of an Garda Síochána as follows: one to the rank of assistant commissioner, three to the rank of chief superintendent and seven to the rank of superintendent. These appointment were to fill vacancies we had been notified about in the senior ranks, mainly as a result of voluntary retirements, and were within the agreed strength of the employment control framework, ECF. That brings to 43 the number of appointments made by the Government this year and it demonstrates the determination of the Government to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a leadership team that can address the serious challenges it faces every day in maintaining law and order. As matters stand the senior ranks of An Garda Síochána have their full complement and I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that no further vacancies are anticipated within the ECF this year.
As the Deputy is aware the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 contemplates the Policing Authority assuming the function of selecting and appointing persons to the senior ranks. I am committed to the Authority assuming this function and intend to bring the necessary regulations to Government for approval next week with a view to the authority taking on the function on 1 January 2017. Once this is done, it will be a matter for the authority to undertake competitions for appointments to these ranks. The establishment of the authority represents one of the most significant and progressive reforms to the justice sector over recent years and the transfer of the appointment function is a particularly important signal of this reform.
Regarding existing promotion panels arising from competitions held by the Garda Commissioner earlier this year, all candidates were informed when they applied for the competitions that the panels formed would lapse on the transfer of the appointment function to the authority or on 31 December this year, whichever was the earlier. It was therefore clearly envisaged that the panels could expire, as they often do across the Civil Service and in other organisations, without all persons on the panels having been appointed. As it turned out, all those available on the superintendent panel were appointed, whereas although a large number of appointments were made from the other two panels, insufficient vacancies have arisen within the ECF to fully exhaust those panels.