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Topical Issue Debate
15 November, 2016
Deputy Jim O’Callaghan
Opening remarks by Minister of State David Stanton TD on behalf of the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD
On behalf of the Minister, I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this matter.
As the Deputy will be aware Section 12 of the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 provides for the transfer of the appointment of persons to the ranks of Assistant Garda Commissioner, Chief Superintendent and Superintendent to the Policing Authority. The Minister is committed to the Authority assuming its functions in relation to senior appointments as soon as practicable and work is ongoing in her Department on the preparation of the necessary regulations to facilitate this. At this stage, subject to the Authority confirming that it ready to undertake selection competitions so as to avoid any undue delay in the filling of vacancies, the Minister expects to make the necessary commencement order in December. In the interim the appointment of persons to the senior ranks remains a matter for Government in accordance with section 13 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Earlier this year, at the request of the Garda Commissioner the Government made a number of appointments to the senior ranks to fill existing vacancies as follows, four appointments were made to the rank of Assistant Commissioner on 24 May, ten appointments to the rank of Chief Superintendent and eighteen to the rank of Superintendent on 13 July.
The appointments were made in accordance with the statutory framework as set out in the 2005 Act and related regulations. In particular, the appointees were drawn in order of merit from promotion panels formed on foot of competitions held by the Garda Commissioner in accordance with the Garda Síochána (Promotion) Regulations 2006.
The Policing Authority was consulted on the proposal to fill these vacancies and it supported the filling of these critical posts up to the limit of the agreed strength as approved by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
The appointment of the ten Chief Superintendents in July brought the number of Chief Superintendents to the agreed strength as set out in the Employment Control Framework of An Garda Síochána as approved by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure.
The Minister was informed by the Garda Commissioner that in September this year a Chief Superintendent retired. This together with the recent departure of an Assistant Commissioner to take up a post abroad brings the number of vacancies in the Senior Ranks to three including one at superintendent level.
As I have outlined the intention is to transfer the appointment function to the Authority shortly. Once this is done it will be a matter for the Authority to undertake its own selection competitions for appointments to these ranks. The transfer of this function is a very important signal of reform and, taking account of the very recent origin of the current vacancies, I am sure that the Deputy will understand that the Minister’s clear preference is that the Authority should have the opportunity as early as possible after taking on this function to exercise the function itself. This will give confidence to the new oversight arrangements in place and to the role of the Policing Authority in those arrangements.