Harris insists Garda promotions would be examined on merit

Sergeants, inspectors complain some members losing out due frivolous complaints

Six candidates had secured promotion under a recruitment competition  last year. However, when their turn to be promoted came around the promotions stalled as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris did not sign off on them. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Six candidates had secured promotion under a recruitment competition last year. However, when their turn to be promoted came around the promotions stalled as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris did not sign off on them. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

 

Garda sergeants and inspectors have complained that some members of the force were losing out on promotion because vexatious or frivolous complaints had been made about them.

However, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has insisted each Garda promotion would be examined on merit and delayed if more information was required to confirm the suitability of the candidate and their promotion.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) has expressed “unease” at the development, saying that for some Garda members who should be proud to secure promotion their joy had turned to embarrassment as their move up the ranks had been put on hold.

The controversy first emerged last week when The Irish Times reported that six promotions had been stalled by Mr Harris.

The members in question were rank and file gardaí being promoted to sergeant and at least one sergeant being promoted to inspector.

The six candidates had secured promotion under a recruitment competition that was run within the Garda last year. However, when their turn to be promoted came around the promotions stalled as Mr Harris did not sign off on them.

‘An embarrassing saga’

In some cases there were outstanding investigations into police work that involved some of the candidates and the commissioner wanted those inquiries completed, or was seeking more information about them, before the promotions could go ahead.

Agsi president Cormac Moylan said candidates were being subjected to “an embarrassing saga”.

“In most cases, when the analysis of the complaint is reviewed it shows that either the complaint was clearly frivolous or vexatious and the member is cleared but the process of closing the investigation is tardy to say the least,” he said.

Mr Moylan was speaking on Tuesday on the second day of Agsi’s three-day delegate conference in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

He called on Commissioner Harris to quickly complete any inquiries being made into “promotion-ready” Garda members whose promotions had been delayed.

Mr Harris said discipline was important in a police force and was expected of the Garda by the public.

“We should be able to be trusted to the ends of the earth,” he said of the force.

“I want to make sure our behaviours within the organisation are exemplary and demonstrate that.”

Brexit

In the cases of those Garda members whose promotions were delayed, that did not mean the promotions would not happen.

Mr Harris added he could not comment on an investigation underway into a member of Agsi accused of double-jobbing in the security industry, but he insisted the inquiry was proceeding at pace.

He would study the findings of the investigation and any decision that needed to be made at that point would be made.

Asked about why he had last month travelled in a PSNI vehicle with PSNI officers from the border to Dublin and into Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, he said he could not comment because it related to his personal security and that of his family.

Commissioner Harris declined to say if he would be comfortable, from a security perspective, with a Cabinet minister being escorted in the Republic by officers from another jurisdiction in their vehicle.

On the issue of Brexit, he said Garda numbers in the Border area as well as in roads policing and the specialist armed response units had been increasing of late. But it was still unclear what form Brexit would take.

He added he was concerned about gun feuding in west Dublin and also the theft of ATMs north and south of the border. However, in both cases there were intensive investigations ongoing.

And in relation to the ATMs he believed some of the attacks were being carried out by gangs effectively copying previous attacks. There have been 10 attacks so far this year, the latest in Bushmills, Co Antrim, early on Tuesday morning.