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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

A plan to move 80 sergeants from Garda HQ to local stations has ground to a halt

At first, 80 were to be moved. Then 30. Now it’s hoped 5 will be redeployed.

OFFICERS BASED IN Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park are in a dispute with management over a plan to reassign them to stations across the country. understands that as many as 80 sergeants were earmarked to be redeployed to stations to help shore up a large deficit of experienced gardaí in several districts.

A pay row at the more senior superintendent grade has led to a delay in the interview process to promote gardaí to the sergeant rank. As officers continue to retire, this has led to a shortage of sergeants at local stations.

Management has been attempting to reduce the deficit in garda sergeants by redeploying members carrying out specialist duties or middle management roles in HQ

It’s proposed they be moved out to stations and have their jobs filled by civilian employees. This, however, has been met with serious pushback from some officers.

At the start, 80 were officers were to be moved. That figure was later reduced to 30 by management – but nobody accepted the switch.

Management is now attempting to move around five people. The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), the body representing the sergeants in question, is liaising with management over the issue.

Many of the sergeants based in HQ work regular office hours. They don’t deal with the public, do not have to conduct their own investigations and are often the first to be chosen for promotion (some sources have described a lot, but not all of this work, as ‘cushy policing’).

There are, of course, important jobs based in HQ too – and the AGSI is aware that there are positions which should not be vacated by the sergeant currently in charge.

Many of the sergeants in HQ say they would need to be guaranteed additional training if they were to consider leaving for a normal station.

What do sergeants do? 

Middle-ranking gardaí like sergeants perform an integral role in the force as many of them train up new gardaí entering stations. Garda divisions are divided into sub-districts – many of which are led by sergeants, so a lack of personnel in this role effectively means a lack of leadership on the ground.

The lack of appointments has come about as superintendents have said they will not take on the task of interviewing gardaí for sergeant roles due to a pay dispute.

This was to have been the first year that superintendents were to conduct first round interviews for the promotions. Before this, all sergeant and inspector competitions were conducted by chief superintendents.

It is expected that chief superintendents will also decline to conduct sergeant-to-inspector promotion interviews. This move will mean significant delays in filling up to 300 vacancies for sergeants and inspectors.

Impasse understands that discussions are ongoing with management and that it is hoped the issue will be resolved in the coming weeks.

Asked to comment on the apparent impasse, a spokesperson for the Garda Press Office said:

“The Acting Commissioner addressed the issue relating to the shortage of operational Sergeants at the recent AGSI and GRA Conferences. At those conferences, the Acting Commissioner said that this shortage was a matter of considerable concern to him.

“The Acting Commissioner said at that time that short-term measures were required to help alleviate this situation until the Garda to Sergeant competition, which is currently underway, was completed by the end of the summer. In addition, a competition for Inspectors is due to be completed by year end. Both of these competitions will significantly help in increasing front-line supervision.

“In the meantime, to alleviate the shortfall in Sergeants in the short-term, some Sergeants in administrative roles are being redeployed to operational duties. This process has begun. There will be consultation with those Sergeants to take into account their individual circumstances and relevant experience.

Training will be available to Sergeants as required.

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