I will respond to the Deputy in English if that is okay. I regret that the Deputy has not received the response on time. I signed off on it so the Deputy should have had it at this stage. I apologise for the delay.
I can inform the Deputy that promotions to the ranks of sergeant and inspector in An Garda Síochána are governed by An Garda Síochána regulations of 2021. The new regulations mark a fundamental change by providing promotion competitions to the supervisory ranks of sergeant and inspector, which have previously been managed internally by An Garda Síochána, will for the first time be managed through the independent Public Appointments Service, PAS. An Garda Síochána (Amendment) Act requires that I as the Minister for Justice would consult with the Garda Commissioner and the Policing Authority prior to requesting Government approval to bring regulations concerning the operational matters of An Garda Síochána into effect.
The regulations were finalised following extensive engagement between my Department, the Public Appointments Service and An Garda Síochána, and in consultation with the Policing Authority and the associations. The previous regulations governing promotion to the sergeant rank required candidates to have passed a proficiency test in Irish and in the Irish language. As the Deputy is aware, entrants to An Garda Síochána already undergo extensive training, which includes training for proficiency in Irish. Following consultations between my Department, An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority and the Public Appointments Service, it was agreed that the achievement of a 50% grade in the oral competency examination was not an essential requirement for candidates to be eligible for promotion to the ranks of sergeant or inspector. This was done in best keeping with other practice for other promotional competitions across the public sector, and also to ensure that we have as diverse a pool of candidates coming forward as possible, particularly for those promotion opportunities.
Development of the regulations was informed by the 2015 An Garda Síochána Inspectorate report Changing Policing in Ireland, which recommended establishing new promotions and selection processes, and by the 2015 audit by the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, which found that An Garda Síochána regulations were outdated and needed to be reviewed.