The Cabinet will on Tuesday be asked to approve an unprecedented redundancy scheme for senior gardaí that aims to remove 30 senior officers in order to pave the way for a restructuring of the force’s senior ranks.
Restructuring of the Garda Síochána will see the abolition of 30 senior posts at superintendent, chief superintendent and assistant commissioner levels and the scheme will allow senior officers at these ranks to retire before the maximum retirement age of 60.
They will receive six months’ salary in addition to normal pension and lump-sum entitlements. Gardaí are generally entitled to a pension of half of final salary plus a lump sum of 150 per cent final salary after 30 years of service.
The scheme is expected to be rolled out quickly, with a closing date at the end of January. Departures will take effect beginning April 2020 and it is expected to cost €6.5 million next year. However it is unclear how many senior gardaí will take up the package.
The plan was originally to seek 50 early retirements but a decision was taken in recent months to put forward a more modest plan. Garda sources say a small number of superintendents and chief superintendents in high-pressure posts, such as urban areas with high crime rates, are likely to eagerly take up the package.
Other senior gardaí who have recently made it known they are unhappy with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’s management style – which is more formal than his predecessors – may also be likely targets. However many of the gardaí, especially those at chief superintendent rank and above, are likely to remain on in the hope of future promotion.
The initiative comes at a sensitive time for Mr Harris who is currently dealing with a backlash from chief superintendents unhappy with the fast pace of Garda reform, especially in the area of civilianisation of the force.
Ministers will meet at Government Buildings for a Cabinet meeting with a packed agenda, sources say. It is understood that among the agenda items are requests for extra money for a variety of spending programmes to be included in the revised spending estimates for next year. After a relatively tight budget process, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is under pressure from his colleagues to loosen the purse strings, as the threat of a hard Brexit recedes and corporation tax revenues continue to grow strongly.