The Garda and Government have denied a charge that acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan has appointed two senior officers to posts that have always been filled by government.
Sinn Féin last night demanded to know if Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald had any knowledge of what it claimed was the appointment on an interim basis of two assistant commissioners into the two vacant posts at deputy commissioner level, the second most senior offices in the force.
The party’s spokesman on justice Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said it was “alarming” that Commissioner O’Sullivan would make the appointments, which have always previously been made by Cabinet.
He suggested Government had said senior Garda posts would from now on be filled by the public appointments service, with the mooted Garda Authority making the final decision.
However, the Department of Justice said the claims were “not true”, adding the appointment of deputy commissioners in the garda was a Government responsibility.
“The assignment by the commissioner of various responsibilities to assistant commissioners and other personnel across the organisation is to ensure that an efficient and effective policing service continues to be delivered at the present time,” the statement said.
“The minister is fully supportive of the acting commissioner in carrying out these actions.”
Garda sources said Sinn Féin was overstating what had happened.
The sources confirmed that two assistant commissioners had been asked to take on the responsibilities of the two vacant deputy commissioner offices but insisted no appointments had been made.
Assistant Commissioner John Twomey with responsibility for traffic enforcement assumes the responsibilities of deputy commissioner in charge of operations. A vacancy was created there when Ms O'Sullivan assumed the position of acting garda commissioner on the retirement of Martin Callinan 2½ months ago.
Assistant Commissioner Dónall O’Cualáin, who is in charge of the western region, takes on the responsibilities of deputy commission in charge of strategy, where a vacancy has existed for a prolonged period.