asked the Minister for Justice whether in view of present dissatisfaction among members of the Garda Síochána with methods of promotion to the ranks of Sergeant, Inspector and Superintendent he will ensure that in future at least a proportion of these promotions be made on the grounds of seniority of service.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Promotions in Garda Síochána.
Promotion in the Garda Síochána is based on the selection by a selection board of the most suitable members of those who, having become eligible for promotion by passing qualifying examinations, are sent forward to the selection board by their divisional officers. Other things being equal, preference is given to senior men, but suitability for higher duties, and not seniority is the determining factor. It is not proposed to alter this procedure.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the fact that greater numbers of senior men have not been promoted in recent years is due to the fact that only a small number of them have passed the qualifying examinations which would make them eligible for consideration for promotion.
If we do not deal with the question of promotion from the rank of sergeant upwards in a just and equitable fashion in future, the Minister will have upon his hands a greater revolt amongst the senior men than he has had amongst the younger men.
Stop talking in terms of rebellion.
I do not think there is any question about the fairness of promotion. There will always be discussion, comment, and so on, and there will always be some disappointment because certain people were not promoted, but, as far as we can ensure, the system is fair; everybody gets his chance. It is a just system and it is demonstrably fair.
It is not fair.
The list of those eligible for promotion is very heavily loaded with younger men and that is why there are more younger men than older men promoted to the rank of sergeant at the moment. But that is the only reason. Secondly, as I have said in reply and as I said this morning, other things being equal, seniority counts. I think that is fair.
How is the test made?
It is a written test which is carried out, a general test of competency in police work carried out from time to time.
Therefore, the man who has years of experience and has shown himself to be a tried and proven member of the Force can be bowled out by somebody who may have happened to get a better education—is that the way?
It is the way.
The Minister says the position at present is that the list of Gardaí eligible for promotion is heavily overloaded, by comparison, with younger men. Does not that in itself suggest there is something wrong with the test of eligible Gardaí, if the men who have given long and useful service in the Force are being eliminated from the prospect of promotion by the form of test at present being employed? Is that not calculated to give rise to reasonable resentment on the part of the Gardaí?
Superficially, it would seem that way. In fact, that is not so because if you look at the constitution of the Force at the moment I think there is another explanation. By far the greater number of Gardaí at present in the Force all came in at the same time. Now that age group is, by and large, leaving it or on the verge of leaving it. There will be a very considerable number of the older age group leaving shortly and I think that is the reason they are not on the list of those qualified for promotion.
Is it the Minister's idea to eliminate all the older men?
Could the Minister say whether the Guards are entitled to discuss prospects and terms of promotion, or to meet for the purpose of discussing them?