Belfast Telegraph

Gardai workload may double - chief

Gardai could be forced to double their workload as a result of a sudden staffing exodus, Commissioner Martin Callinan has warned.

Some 293 officers will have left the force by the end of February with pensions under the special pre-pay cuts retirement scheme announced in September. This includes 72 from the top brass.

The Garda Commissioner issued the warning as the force looks to fill high-ranking vacancies for four assistant commissioners, 19 chief superintendents and 49 superintendents.

Mr Callinan said it is essential that officers currently on promotion lists be appointed to the vacant positions left by senior staff.

"But even then there will still be gaps," Mr Callinan claimed. "There will still be a requirement for some of those officers to double up their work."

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said that steps will be taken "very, very shortly" to plug the empty positions.

The commissioner, who was being examined by the Dail Public Accounts Committee on the force's budgetary plans, warned that gaps will be left. "We, like every other public service, are going through a huge change," he said. "That will have a domino effect on the amount of officers we will have."

Other cutbacks will see 39 Garda stations close this year. Some 286 cars, nine four-by-fours, 36 vans, 51 bicycles and a number of other miscellaneous vehicles will be taken from the Garda fleet - a total of 385.

Mr Callinan said there was no escaping the fact that a reduction in finances will lead to reduced resources. "There will be difficulties of managing the situation but the essential business we are in of protecting the public will not be affected," he went on.

"A decrease in our finances will have an impact, but will it impact to the point where we are not as effective as we have been? I have seen no evidence to suggest that yet."

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