Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (156)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

156. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of unfilled promotional positions throughout An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48172/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is responsible for management of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources, including deployment of personnel.  As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

Appointments to the ranks of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner are made by Government on the nomination of the Authority.

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.  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. I understand that 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. 

Appointments to the ranks of sergeant and inspector are a matter for the Commissioner under section 14 of Garda Síochána Act 2005 .

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 423 newly promoted Sergeants and 190 new promoted Inspectors having been appointed to date.

The Policing Authority is responsible for approving the number and grades of Garda Staff (with the consent of the Ministers for Justice and Public Expenditure and Reform) and since taking over this function has given approval for 378 positions in An Garda Síochána.  Of these 378 positions, I am advised by the Garda authorities that a total of 56 positions are currently vacant and that recruitment is in train. In some cases, the Authority, in approving posts, advises on the way in which they are to be filled, particularly in the case of professional, technical and specialist posts.

In common with Government Departments, An Garda Síochána also conducts internal promotional competitions as appropriate, which affords staff the opportunity 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.  I am informed by the Garda Authorities that An Garda Síochána is recruiting through the Public Appointments Service for posts from Principal Officer level to Executive Officer level.  There is also a live internal Assistant Principal Officer competition underway and I understand that it is planned to hold an internal competition at Higher Executive Officer level early next 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 following table the vacancies at each rank as compared to the ECF as of 18 November 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available, as supplied by the Garda Commissioner. 

Vacancies at each rank as compared to the ECF as of 18 November 2019 

Commissioner

1

0

D/Commissioner

2

1

A/Commissioner

9

1

Chief Superintendent

47

0

Superintendent

168

0

Inspector

381

0

Sergeant

2,110

132