Garda set to lose several assistant commissioners to retirement

Seven of eight assistant commissioners now nearing retirement age

An Garda Síochána is set to undergo major change in senior management ranks as Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney has become the latest senior officer to signal her intention to retire. Ms Cagney, who is currently in charge of policing in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR), could have served on the force for about five more years.

However, having joined the Garda in 1989 she is eligible to retire and has decided to do so, though her departure date was not clear. Her decision to take early retirement comes at a time when Assistant Commissioner Barry O’Brien, who is in charge of the North Western Region, is about to retire.

Furthermore, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who leads the Garda units that combat organised crime, is also nearing the end of a two-year extension to his service. His time on the force was extended by two years, to June of this year, in mid 2020 as he had been due to retire on age grounds at that time.

A number of other Garda officers at assistant commissioner level are nearing the end of their service in the force and must retire on age grounds - aged 60 years - in the next 12 to 18 months. They could remain on if they were offered extensions and were willing to continue working.

Extensions

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris can ask the Government to extend the service of any senior officer, by increasing their retirement age. Such extensions are usually for a period of one or two years, though it could be longer. Such extensions are not unusual, especially at times when several senior officers are due to retire in quick succession.

In the past the Government has moved to retain some officers in a bid not to lose experience and corporate knowledge at the same time. Offering extensions of service to senior officers also ensures the turnover of senior personnel is staggered, to retain leadership stability.

There are currently eight assistant commissioners in the Garda. Aside from Ms Cagney, Mr O’Driscoll and Mr O’Brien, four of the five remaining assistant commissioners all joined in the Garda n 1982 or 1983, meaning they are nearing retirement age.

They are: Assistant Commissioner Orla McPartlin, who is in charge of Crime & Security Intelligence Service; Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, Eastern Region; Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin, Governance and Accountability; Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, Southern Region.

The remaining assistant commissioner, Paula Hilman, who is in charge of Roads Policing & Community Engagement, was appointed in 2020 after spending 34 years in the PSNI. She has a longer period of service remaining than her colleagues.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times