Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 16 Nov 1961

Vol. 192 No. 3

Garda Síochána Bill, 1961—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

This Bill is the necessary result of a decision to carry out a scheme of reorganisation of the Dublin Metropolitan Division of the Garda Síochána. The scheme provides for the creation of twenty-one additional posts of inspector rank in the Division and to enable all these appointments to be made the existing statutory provisions governing the strength of the ranks of the Force will have to be amended. These provisions are contained in subsection (2) of section 5 of the Police Forces Amalgamation Act, 1925. They prescribe that the Garda Siochana shall consist of such officers and men as the Government shall from time to time determine not exceeding the total number of officers and men respectively specified in the Third Schedule to the Act.

In that Schedule, as amended by the Garda Siochana Act, 1945, the maximum strength of the inspector rank is 90 and that number also represents the strength of the rank as determined by Government. Within the present statutory limit, it has been possible to make some of the additional appointments but to enable all the appointments to be made it will be necessary to provide for a maximum strength of 103. That is the purpose of the Bill but Deputies will note that I am asking for approval of a maximum number of 110. I consider it prudent to provide for a margin in excess of present requirements in order to meet possible future contingencies. This course will obviate the necessity for further legislation.

The scheme of reorganisation, which has been formulated by the Commissioner of the Force in consultation with his senior officers, is based on the recommendations of a firm of management consultants which carried out an investigation into the administrative and organisation structure of the Dublin Metropolitan Division. The scheme is aimed at improving the present administrative system and increasing crime prevention efficiency in the Division, and many of the provisions of the scheme dealing with the allocation of duties and personnel, the coordination of the efforts of different work sections and the elimination of duplication have already been put into operation.

The aspects of the scheme which make the appointment of the inspectors necessary are those relating to station and unit control, outdoor supervision, communications and a crime prevention service. It is considered essential, in the interests of effective control, that there should be attached to each station a person of responsible rank who would have responsibility for the activities of the complete station party and station area and under the scheme 21 of the city's 23 stations will have an inspector assigned for this duty—Raheny and Kill-O'-Grange will not be so staffed, but they will come under the control of the inspectors at Clontarf and Dalkey respectively. Likewise, each of seven district detective units will have an inspector in control. In addition, the maintenance of adequate outdoor supervision will require the assignment of three extra inspectors for duty tours at each of the city's six central stations, viz., College Street, Kevin Street, Harcourt Terrace, Bridewell, Fitzgibbon Street and Store Street.

The appointment of a Crime Prevention Advisory Officer is also provided for. He will be required, among other things, to make a study of crime prevention methods, to advise firms and individuals on the best protection methods against housebreaking and loss of property and to give lectures to members of the Force on prevention and detection methods. Lastly, it is intended to have a Communications Officer who will be in charge of 999 calls, radio service, telephone and teleprinter service.

I have carefully considered the proposals of the Garda Commissioner and I am fully satisfied that the scheme will result in a more satisfactory system of organisation and administration and will provide a big improvement in the machinery for supervision and crime investigation.

The creation of the additional inspector posts in the Dublin Metropolitan Division will mean promotion for a number of members of the Force of sergeant and station sergeant rank with consequential promotion for members of Garda rank. I should like, therefore, to make some comments on the subject of promotion generally as it seems to me that in any Force like the Garda Siochana it must be regarded as being of vital importance. It is one which is of particular interest to the individual member and one on which there has been, from time to time, a great deal of discussion and comment. It is a matter which vitally affects morale and has an important bearing on the efficiency of the Force as a whole.

It is important at the outset to emphasise that in any such Force only a proportion of the members can attain promotion and it is only natural, therefore, that there will be some disappointment to individual members from time to time. That is, of course, inevitable and cannot be avoided. What can and must be avoided, however, is that that natural and human disappointment should be transformed into a sense of frustration or injustice leading to discontent. This can only be done if the system of promotion is obviously just and equitable, and every member of the Force can feel, and indeed know, that he will get a fair crack of the whip. In any large organisation, luck will play a certain part but every fair-minded person will understand that this cannot be helped. The workings of any system will throw up the odd anomaly from time to time, and maybe even an occasional injustice. The objective, however, must be to ensure that any such discrepancies are kept down to an absolute minimum and that the system is demonstrably as fair and reasonable as possible.

Promotion prospects were never better than they are at present. At no time since the inception of the Force have there been such widespread opportunities available to all ranks as there will be during the next few years. Every Garda today carries gold braid in his tunic pocket and the young man of ability who applies himself to his career in the Force with diligence, zeal and energy can look forward to a very promising future. During the next six years, as a consequence of retirements on age ground alone, the following appointments will require to be made:

Deputy and Assistant Commissioners


Chief Superintendents






Station Sergeants and Sergeants



I have heard complaints that the older members of the Force are being victimised by the promotion of younger men over their heads. I have made inquiries about this aspect and find that the average age of promotees over the past three years was 57 years for chief superintendents, 51 years for superintendents, 46 years for inspectors and 35 years for sergeants. Other things being equal, preference is given to senior men, but suitability for higher duties, and not seniority, is the determining factor. In the Garda Síochána, where there is promotion right up along the line, and where there is no entry to the officer ranks through the medium of a cadet force, it is essential that seniority alone should not be the sole ground for promotion. I should point out also that between 1954 and 1960, 757 members passed the eligibility tests for promotion to sergeant rank and only 70 of these were over 40.

Having regard to the number of elderly men in the Force, these figures clearly show that the reason why the younger men are figuring in the promotion list is that the older men are not eligible to be promoted. In November 1960, the existing promotion procedure was discussed by the Commissioner with the Representative Bodies for Gardaí, sergeants, station sergeants and inspectors. A number of members expressed criticism of the procedure but the Bodies had no concrete suggestions for improvement. In view of the paramount importance of this matter, however, and the accelerated volume of promotion which must take place within the next few years, I intend to discuss the existing arrangements with the Commissioner at an early date in order to satisfy myself that they are the best possible having regard to all the circumstances.

I commend the Bill to the House and ask that it be given a Second Reading.

I found in my hands the other day this piece of legislation to enable 110 inspectors to be appointed in the Guards, instead of 90, the present limit. I came in to hear a statement as to what were the extra difficulties which have arisen in the running of the Garda Siochana which demand that 20 extra inspectors should be appointed. The Minister takes that opportunity to make a highly prejudicial ex parte statement bearing on the recent controversy. It is an abuse of Parliamentary functions, particularly when there is an effort being made even to stifle questioning on the whole matter. I will have to leave further discussion on this until I see what this scheme of organisation is and have some information given me with regard to this matter of promotion.

The question of promotion is a cause of a great deal of dissatisfaction in the Force, apart from the question of pay. The Minister takes the opportunity on a simple piece of legislation such as this to make a completely prejudicial statement of one side of the case. He might at least have shown some delicacy in the matter. In present circumstances, it is almost an insult to say that the Guards are getting a fair crack of the whip.

I should like to raise one point which I raised here before on the Estimate for the Department of Justice. I think it arises now, particularly since the Minister refers to the creation of extra posts of inspector. A superintendent is entitled to an extension of service if he has I.R.A. service. That does not apply to an inspector and there is a certain amount of dissatisfaction among the small number of men affected. While the Minister was making his general statement, I noticed that he did not say anything about this matter. It is a matter which I have raised in succeeding years on the Estimate for the Department of Justice. Perhaps the Minister would consider giving this extension, which applies to superintendents, to inspectors in future.

I should like to comment on the proposal to increase the number of inspectors from 90 to 110. I have had complaints from senior station sergeants that on several occasions in the past they were overlooked. I think that these men who have vast experience should be considered. I do not think that there should be any barrier to promotion. It is every man's ambition to rise higher. It is every T.D.'s ambition to become a Minister some day. In fact, it has been the complaint of certain T.D.s that they got browned off awaiting their opportunity. That is why they took to drink. That is a fact.

There should be no barrier put in the way of any man. As the Minister said, using a variation of the Napoleonic expression, every member of the Garda has gold braid in his knapsack. Station sergeants should not be overlooked. Sometimes it is a bad thing to be too good. It has been said that we cannot do without a person; that he should be left there. That is all right but whether a man is very good or not, he should not be debarred from promotion if he deserves promotion. I have been informed that some of the senior station sergeants were to some extent victimised, perhaps because they were too good for their jobs. In this matter of promotion, there should be no obstacle put in the way of any man.

The Minister said that "all things being equal," some priority would go to the senior men. I do not agree with that, either. It all depends on what you mean by "all things being equal." For instance, there is usually a certain standard of knowledge and you have to pass a test. We all know that in deciding on this sort of business there must be some standard. Allowance must be made for the fact that some men who may not have the accepted standard, may have vast experience. For instance, it might be laid down that one must know a certain amount of Irish or some other subject and the senior men may have forgotten what they had known of those subjects and might not then be regarded as equal to others to whom they may be far superior in knowledge and experience. Therefore when it comes to this question of equality, the Minister must make allowance for experience and give some percentage of marks for experience and not merely make the appointments on mere academic tests, which is the usual procedure.

It has been proved, especially in times of revolution, that it was the sergeants who became the chief persons. Most of the Russian marshals were sergeants. In every revolution these are the men who came to the top because that is the time when red tape is abolished and experience counts. If I had to pass a test in order to get into Parliament, they would never make me a T.D. It is experience that counts.

These men have made the case to me privately and I am here to voice their views, as I am entitled to do. There should be no barrier to promotion for any man. Allowance must be made for experience and it must not be a question of equality in tests or any of these artificial conundrums devised to decide whether a man is a genius or not and which do not prove anything.

Do I gather from the Minister, when he suggests that a Garda carries his gold braid in his pocket, that it is a matter of the Garda going out and becoming more active, in other words, that the more prosecutions he brings the higher up he promotes himself?

I cannot understand what the Minister means because if we were to have that situation it would be most ennoying.

It will be most annoying if a Garda gets the impression that if he becomes more active he will put himself in line for promotion.

No. I would not like that impression to get abroad. I merely used that phrase to illustrate the excellent opportunities there are for promotion in the next few years. Nothing more than that.

I felt that that was running through what the Minister said. I should not like the occasion to pass without letting the Minister know that I am aware that there is a certain amount of uneasiness amongst the Gardaí in regard to the question of promotions, that junior men have been promoted. They may be good but the Gardaí must be satisfied in that respect. They have proved that they were not satisfied. It is unfair that there should be such unrest. Recently the younger men felt that they were not treated well in certain circumstances with regard to pay.

I want to bring out the point that these are the men who are given the tough assignments in the North and these are the men to whom the Minister showed the mailed fist in the last week or two. It is most unfair that there should be any uneasiness amongst the Garda. We have held them in high respect. Amongst all sections of the public they are held in high respect. The Minister should bear that in mind.

I think the Minister has made an objective statement of the proposed organisation of the Garda in the present mechanical age when the problems that they have to deal with have been altering very much from year to year.

There is only one point that I should like to bring to the Minister's notice. If at a particular time a member of the Garda of any rank qualifies in the standards then set for a higher post and the regulations are changed before he has been promoted, perhaps in a way to exclude him from promotion for which his merit has been previously established, that should not exclude him. If he has the qualifications at a particular time for a higher post, a change of regulations should not debar him from attaining the post, when the time comes.

I just want to say that we do not oppose this proposal because we feel there is an increased avenue for promotion, which must be helpful. I was interested in the Minister's reference to gold braid being carried in the Garda's pocket. Perhaps if the Garda had a little small change in his pocket he would be a happier man.

That would not arise on this Bill.

It may not arise but the Minister did make the comment and I think I am entitled to comment on anything the Minister said, with due respect to you.

The question of payments does not arise.

I did not refer to payments.

If you promote a man, you have to pay him.

The Deputy spoke of change.

I spoke of change. When the Minister talks about Gardaí having gold braid in their pockets I think I am entitled to refer to it. As far as promotion is concerned, there have been comments from time to time but in regard to every job in the country there have been comments from time to time as to the way promotion was carried out. We have a new Minister and, with our knowledge of what can happen, we are entitled to give the new Minister, who is making a very promising start, every possible assistance in this House to improve the Force. It would be unfair for us to say that the proposal to have extra inspectors is for the purpose of instituting extra prosecutions for minor offences.

There are serious crimes occurring in the country. There are serious crimes occurring in the city. Unfortunately, we are coming to the time of year when serious crimes become more numerous. If the Minister's action in introducing this motion succeeds in reducing the number of serious crimes and in having persons responsible for such crimes prosecuted, we should all be very grateful to him.

I want to make an observation. It is true that a tradition has been established in this House that the House tacitly waives its rule that people must not read speeches in favour of Ministers introducing Bills or elaborate Estimates but there has been a corresponding courtesy on the side of Ministers that, where the terms of their introductory observations require the Minister to read a document to the House, a copy of it is circulated for the convenience of Deputies, for the simple reason that if the Minister's statement is one of such complexity as requires it to be read, it follows that Deputies listening to it will want to have the text to refer to if they are intelligently to comment on what the Minister has said. I think the Minister has overlooked that courtesy twice today. Possibly it was an oversight but I would be grateful if he would have regard to it in future.

Any Bill which deals with reorganisation of the Garda is a Bill of consequence and, of course, raises a vast area of discussion once we speak of reorganisation and the things that flow from it. I am deliberately abstaining from any reference to recent controversies as I hope and believe that these matters are now being equitably resolved. But, there is one matter in connection with the reorganisation of the Garda which, I think, warrants attention.

I am informed that the incidence of attacks on unprotected women in the streets, particularly in the suburbs of Dublin, is coming to assume serious proportions. The difficulty associated with this problem is that we hear of proceedings in relation to some of these incidents when somebody is apprehended or when the occurrence is of exceptional gravity. But I regret to say my information is that a great many instances of this kind are occurring and that the victims, simply because they recoil from the additional burden of publicity, are not bringing them to the attention of the Garda. Nevertheless a great deal of public anxiety exists and parents are apprehensive for the safety of their daughters and husbands are apprehensive for the safety of their wives. These instances extend from the mere gesture of jostling women in the street up to the point of offering them physical violence.

There is no use raising a matter of this kind unless one has some suggestion to make as to how it may be met. I do not think any system of reorganisation, or the provision of motorised patrols, or any mechanical device of the character which Deputy Seán MacCarthy appears to have at the back of his mind in the new atomic age when he speaks of new circumstances in which we find ourselves, is adequate to meet this situation. I believe the fact that this situation is much worse in cities like New York, London, and some of the big industrial cities in the outside world, is due to the failure of the authorities there to realise what I believe to be a fundamental fact of unsatisfactory police administration, and that is that there is no substitute for the man on the beat. That is very easy to understand in rural Ireland but the extension of that principle to urban life is sometimes overlooked.

In Government and out of Government I have opposed a series of proposals materially to reduce the strength of the Garda in rural areas. There has always been a strong school of thought who want to try and close up as many rural Garda stations as possible and substitute for the permanent station perambulatory patrols. I never believed that that is a satisfactory method of maintaining public peace in rural Ireland, because it is the local resident Guard who knows the people, who has the confidence of the people, who will get from the people the kind of co-operation without which no police force can maintain the law. That principle can and should be extended especially to suburban areas around the cities.

If we have an adequate patrol and an adequate number of beats in the suburbs with Gardaí who grow to know the residents and habitues of the areas the possibility for violence of the kind to which I have referred will start receding because the Guards will come to know the individuals who are capable of such conduct, if they are resident in the particular area in which the Guard is on patrol. If it be strangers who are coming into the district to create disturbances, their very presence will be detected by the Guard who is familiar with the district before any danger is done. If damage should be done, the Guard will make a careful note of the appearance of the strangers he has seen abroad and that will greatly assist in the detection of offences of this kind.

I want to submit to the House that it is what we might describe as relatively minor offences of this kind which can constitute one of the greatest abuses in ordinary civil life. The burglar, the murderer, the embezzler, and the major criminal is, as a general rule, apprehended, and it is relatively easy to mobilise public co-operation for the detection of that type of crime, but for the ordinary citizen who experiences aggression in the public street, to the point of being gravely intimidated or possibly injured, it can be an infinitely distressing experience and create a general atmosphere of malaise and anxiety which becomes a great burden on ordinary law-abiding citizens. Therefore I avail of the discussion on this Bill to direct the attention of the Minister to the existence of this evil and to suggest to him that, particularly in suburban areas, adequate patrols be provided until this abuse is effectively brought under control. I attach such importance to that matter that I propose to confine my observations on this stage of the Bill, which is designed for the reorganisation of the Garda, to that and one other topic.

In the matter of promotion and administration, it seems to me that nothing is more important than that every officer of the Garda should be satisfied in his mind that if he faithfully discharges his duty he will be supported and sustained by his superior officers and by the Minister for Justice of the State. If a Garda detects any one of us, whether we are from Oireachtas Éireann or members of the Government, or individuals who are not in public life, whether we be rich or poor, in the breach of regulations or in the breach of laws for which it is the duty of a Garda to prosecute, it is vitally important that every Garda should know that if he discharges his duty, no matter how influential the person involved may be, the Garda will be sustained in the discharge of his duty.

It has been suggested to me that in the relatively recent past summonses have issued at the instance of the Garda and have subsequently been withdrawn. I should be glad if the Minister would look into that matter. If summonses in connection with breaches of the licensing laws have been issued, I should be glad to be reassured by the Minister that careful perusal of his records reassures him that any such summons that has been withdrawn has been withdrawn for a proper reason and not simply because there was any reluctance on the part of the Executive to allow the prosecution of an individual to proceed.

If we once accept in this country a dual standard, under which certain persons are exempt from conformity with the law, I believe it is impossible to maintain a decent police standard at all. We have got to establish definitely that if a Garda does his duty under the regulations and in accordance with the obligations of courtesy every public servant owes to his employers, he will be sustained and supported by those who are in authority over him without regard to persons and circumstances. I should be glad to have on the occasion of this Bill an assurance from the Minister that that is his intention.

I should like to congratulate the Minister and all concerned that the recent trouble is now all over and that the men seem to have come out of it well. One matter I should like to mention to the Minister is the question of promotion. Any Garda who has given years of service in his area and who is satisfactory and capable of being promoted should not be passed over in favour of younger men. Those who have 25 or 30 years of service should get promotion if they are worthy of it, because it would be a great help to them in after years when they go on pension. The value of money is depreciating every year and those people who come out on pension at present may find themselves in the position of old age pensioners in five years' time.

I have no reflection of any description to cast on the Minister and I want to wish him well in his new office. I would suggest to him that he be re-baptised or go through some similar process to rid himself of the results of the sins of his predecessors in the Department of Justice. As far as I can see, the results of some of the activities in that Department are beneath contempt, particularly the attitude towards members of the Garda. I want to make special reference to the methods involved in connection with promotions. The question of pay has sparked off a very unusual drama——

The question of pay does not arise on this Bill.

I had not the sentence finished, Sir, but the question of promotion will very soon spark off a bigger row. I wonder if Deputies are aware of some of the extraordinary methods used in connection with promotions from Garda to the rank of sergeant and from sergeant to superintendent? I wonder are Deputies aware that this method is open to many and varied interpretations and is a very doubtful one? The examinations are set, I think, by two superintendents and a chief superintendent. It often happens in these examinations that there are questions involving criminal law. But in the whole Force, as far as I am aware, there are only two people who know anything about criminal law, two people who could stand on their feet if the question of criminal law had to be debated. One is a chief superintendent with the qualification of B.L., and the other is a superintendent, also with the qualification of B.L. Do either of these two people take part in the setting of the examinations for promotion within the Garda?

I also want to point out that it is well known that members of the Garda at various ranks are able to have advance warning of the type of question they will be called upon to answer. That is only reasonable to expect when you consider that some of the people going for promotion may be the escort or the driver of the superintendent who set the questions. Some of them may be the clerk to the superintendent who frames the questions. It is only human that information should leak out. Consequently, the sergeant or the Garda who happens to be known to the people who set the examinations has the best chance of getting promotion. Is there not some way of getting over that? Can the Civil Service Commissioners or someone else not deal with this?

The man who is at the head of the Force, and in my opinion he should not be at the head of the Force, was a civil servant himself and should be one of the first to alter a suspect method of promotion. As this method now stands, the whole system is suspect. It is believed that favouritism is taking place. In the local areas the rural Guards are very displeased because they always find that, in the long run, promotion goes to people who are known to have been known to the people who set these examinations. I ask the Minister to make a special inquiry into that. If he does nothing else but to change that very doubtful method of promotion, he will be doing good work for himself and for the Garda.

A number of points have been made which I should like to deal with in reply. First, I shall deal with the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon. I took a careful note of what he had to say with regard to the recent development of attacks on women. First of all, I am sure the House will appreciate the Garda are almost completely powerless in cases which are not reported to them. That is one of the difficult factors in that type of case, that women are reluctant in a number of cases to report these matters to the Garda. It is very difficult, therefore, for the Garda to do anything at all in such circumstances. However, I am afraid it is true there is some evidence that this type of menace has increased in recent years. But I should not like the House to pay too much attention to the newspapers in this regard. I am afraid there is a tendency on the part of the newspapers to highlight this sort of sensational story and probably give a wrong impression as to the frequency with which attacks occur. However, I can tell the House that this is a problem which is very much in mind. In the past two years, 200 extra Gardaí have been drafted into the city and the frequency of beat duty has been increased. I think that is all I can usefully say at this stage about it. I would of course urge on those who are attacked in any way to report the matter immediately to the Garda. Indeed the newspapers can also do much to help by not making sensational matters out of incidents in the way they have done from time to time, thereby making people reluctant to come forward and report what has happened.

Deputy Dillon also mentioned the question of summonses. I want to make it absolutely clear that I know of no case where a summons which was issued has been withdrawn. I should also like to make it clear that that would not primarily be a matter for me. Any case about which the police are in any doubt as to whether or not they should prosecute is referred to the Attorney General and he is the appropriate authority to decide whether or not the prosecution should proceed. I do not know of any case of a summons being withdrawn because the people to be prosecuted were influential, or because any factor of that nature entered into it. Deputy Dillon also asked for an assurance in that regard. I am now giving it. To my knowledge, no such withdrawal has ever taken place.

I am sure most Deputies who were in the House when I was speaking were quite surprised at Deputy McGilligan's remarks. I am quite certain that he must not have understood what I was saying because I merely took the opportunity afforded by the introduction of this Bill to try to do what I could to make it clear to all the members of the Garda that if anyone in authority can help it, there will be no grounds for discontent with regard to promotion. I was availing of this opportunity to get the message across that we are anxious to ensure that the system is fair to everyone, and not only fair but capable of being seen to be fair, that this is a matter which every member of the Garda can understand and appreciate, and, as I said in my opening remarks, that it is inevitable and only natural that in any large organisation there will be individual disappointments with regard to promotion but that what we must try to ensure is that every member of the Force will realise that even if he was not successful in a particular interview or application for promotion, nevertheless he got a fair crack of the whip and that the system was fair to all concerned.

I have a great deal of sympathy with Deputies and others who raised the matter of the older members of the Garda not getting promotion to which they feel they are entitled. I tried to make it clear in my remarks that there are very special circumstances applying to the Garda in that regard. Any individual Garda can get promotion right up to the top; in other words, there is no entry, at officer rank, straight into the Garda. In that situation, strong weight must be given in promotion to suitability for higher duties. It cannot be left to seniority alone because, as I say, any member of the Garda can be promoted right up to chief superintendent or deputy commissioner. In those circumstances, considerations of suitability, efficiency and capacity as well as seniority must be taken into account. All other things being equal, the system is that seniority will then count. That is about as fair as we can be.

As I indicated in my opening remarks, I regard this matter as of fundamental importance to the Garda. I regard it as absolutely essential that they should be satisfied in so far as is possible that the system is fair and working fairly. For that reason, I propose to discuss it fully with the Commissioner to see if there is some way in which the system can be improved, if it has to be improved. Apart from that, even if the system is all right, it must also appear to work all right.

Deputy Dillon also mentioned the question of the closing of rural stations. That is a matter on which I am glad to hear the considered views of Deputies who have given thought to it because there is the problem of balance. No rural station is closed without a great deal of consideration, and all the factors are gone into very carefully indeed. I need hardly say that no station is ever closed unless the area in which the station is situated has been virtually free of crime for a number of years. It is a problem of balance. No one wants to have unnecessary stations or unnecessary members of the Garda. From that point of view, the further we proceed with the closing down of unnecessary rural stations, the better.

On the other hand, there is a great deal in what Deputy Dillon said about the necessity for the Garda to live in an area, know the people, win their confidence, and so on. As I say it is a problem of balance and one every aspect of which will have to be given careful consideration. I regard it as helpful that Deputies give their views on the matter.

Deputy Sherwin mentioned the question of Irish in regard to promotion. I should like to point out to him that the Irish Proficiency Test enters the picture for promotion purposes only in the case of men who joined the Force since 1943. For men who joined before 1943, it is not a promotion factor.

Deputy MacCarthy raised the point of the change in the regulations depriving men of promotion to which they would otherwise be entitled. I do not know of any such instance and I shall certainly look into any case of which the Deputy has knowledge.

Deputy Lemass raised the point about the extension of service in the Garda on ground of national service. I am not too clear as to his exact point because as I understand the position, the present condition with regard to retention beyond the normal age of retirement applies to inspectors as well as superintendents.

I think I have now dealt with most of the points which were raised. I again find myself in the position of being able to thank the House sincerely for the helpful and constructive manner in which they have approached this Bill. Finally, may I say that I am quite certain Deputy McGilligan must have completely misunderstood my remarks.

May I ask a question for clarification?

I am concerned about the allegation of preference being given to younger men on the Force as against older men for promotion purposes. I was pleased to hear the Minister say that all other things being equal, seniority of service will be taken into consideration in the future. I am aware of the unrest among the older members of the force in relation to promotion in recent times. I wonder if the Minister is aware that in 1960 five senior sergeants as against eleven junior sergeants were selected and that in 1961, five senior sergeants were selected as against thirteen junior sergeants. It would seem there are grounds for complaints that discrimination is being used against the older members having regard to those figures.

The Deputy is making a positive statement, not asking questions.

I would again ask the Minister to say that seniority of service will be given full consideration in making promotions in the future.

I am glad to be able to give that assurance to the Deputy. Other things being equal, seniority counts. I should like to refer the Deputy to what I said in my speech with regard to this question of older and younger men and promotions. I pointed out that between 1954 and 1960, 757 members of the Garda passed the eligibility test for promotion to sergeant and only 70 of those were over forty years, so that out of 757, only 70 of the older members were eligible for promotion. Accordingly, it is only natural that when promotions were being made there would be more younger men than older men. The difficulty of the older men is to pass the eligibility test.

On what do you base the eligibility test?

They are tests which are carried out, written examinations and so on, to determine whether or not a man is eligible for promotion.

Do they include linguistic tests?

No, other than the Irish Proficiency Test.

Some of them qualified 16 years ago and they are still sergeants.

The tests would be general education tests and tests in police duties.

I would again remind the Minister that some of them passed this examination 16 or 17 years ago and they are still sergeants.

I do not know that that is so.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 22nd November, 1961.
Business suspended at 1.15 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.