The Garda Síochána was established by the Police Force Amalgamation Act 1925.  This merged the Garda Siochana as established in 1923 with the Dublin Metropolitan Police into a single force. The Garda Síochána itself is not a legal entity.  It is a body of officers and men, collectively.  This followed the preexisting position prior to independence. Although the Commissioner has overall responsibility for Garda Síochána, his office does not embody them.

The 1925 Act provided for the ranks of Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, surgeon, Chief Superintendent, Superintendent, Inspector, Station Sergeant, Sergeant and Garda.  There is  statutory power to vary the ranks by statutory instruments.  See the other sections in relation to the lines of responsibility in Garda Síochána, and the relationship of the Commissioner with the government.

In general terms, senior officers may issue operational and administrative instructions to their subordinates.  Subordinates are obliged to obey instructions which are lawful.

The legislation does not lay down in detail, the responsibilities and functions of the ranks.  This is arranged administratively.  There are various places in legislation where a Garda of a particular rank, has powers to undertake particular functions.

Additional ranks and subdivisions of the above ranks may be created for administrative purposes, notwithstanding that they are not specifically provided for by legislation.  For example, the station officers, district officers, divisional officers, et cetera.

The Garda Siochana is organized into a number of distinct units.  This includes the Criminal Assets Bureau, Special Detective Units, Central Detective Unit and the  Traffic Division.

The terms and conditions with admissions and appointments of Garda Síochána are laid down in legislation.  The first regulations limited admission to membership to males between age 19 and 27 of a certain height and chest measurement, being of good character, mentally and physically fit and  possessed of the requisite educational standards. They were disqualified from holding and other office or employment.  His spouse was restricted from certain businesses and trade unless the consent of the Commissioner was obtained.

Over the years, the relevant regulations have been revised considerably.  An applicant must apply for admission as a trainee in the first instance.. He must be between certain ages, be of a good character, and obtain certain qualifications at Leaving Certificate or  equivalent level.

In practice, the Commissioner\’s freedom to admit trainees is dependent on the requisite financial resources being voted and available.

The terms and conditions of training are prescribed by the Commissioner. The Commissioners\’ expenditure is specifically subject to the consent of the Minister for Justice.  The training  contract is between the Commissioner and the trainee Garda.  The terms and conditions allow for termination of traineeship on grounds of physical, mental or other unsuitability.

There is discretion for the appointment of persons with special technical roles, notwithstanding that they may not otherwise satisfy the requisite criteria.

A person may be appointed in Garda Síochána if he has completed the requisite  training and completed his period as a trainee.  He must be certified to be of good health, sound constitution physically and mentally, for the performance of the functions of his role.  He must be approved by the Commissioner as suitable generally for appointment and be available for the appointment.

The probationary period for a trainee Garda is two years. He is a Garda for all purposes under legislation.  He may be subject to the dismissal  by the Commissioner, if he is not fit mentally, physically,  well conducted and likely to an efficient member of an Garda Síochána.

The Commissioner has power of promotion for ranks up to chief superintendent.  However, individual promotions of senior rank are subject to advice from the promotion advisory council (1987 regulations).  The council consists of a chairman and nine ordinary members.  These consist of two chief superintendents, , nominee of the Garda representative bodies, association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, nominee of the Gardai Superintendents representative body, and three persons nominated by the Minister.

Candidates for promotion must satisfy certain eligibility requirements.  There are additional requirements for promotions act between each of the major grades.  A person must pass the exam to become a sergeant and inspector.  The syllabus is determined by the Commissioner with the approval of the Minister. There are assessment requirements.

Individual promotions are selected to through interview board competitions with senior ranking officers.  The final appointment is made by the Commissioner. At the senior levels, the government has ultimate say on appointments subject to those candidates being passed for promotion. There are variations in relation to specialist divisions of the Garda Siochana with technical qualifications.

Gardai are prohibited from withdrawing services without giving at least one month\’s notice.  Breach of the requirement is a criminal offence.  It is an indictable criminal offence to seek to cause or attempt to cause disaffection amongst the members of the Garda Siochana.

Members of the Garda Siochana are prohibited from joining trade unions or associations whose  objects are to control pay pension or conditions.  To compensate for this, the Minister may establish Garda representative associations, subject to such conditions as may be specified.

The associations which may be established are independent of  bodies outside the Garda Siochana.  The Minister may consent to external association.

The principal bodies are the Garda Representative Associations, the  Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, and the Association of Superintendents and Chief Superintendents.

The associations provide representation for members and ensure that they are treated in a fair manner in relation to welfare, discipline, and efficiency. The detailed rules of each association and the conditions of membership are laid  done by law.

In a High Court challenge, Aughey v Ireland, the refusal of  consent to a new representative body for detectives was upheld. It  did not constitute a distinct rank, notwithstanding the specific Constitutional right to organize. The special circumstances of the gardai, justified a restriction on this freedom in accordance with the Constitution.

There is a conciliation and arbitration scheme for the determination of pay and conditions. The  conciliation councils comprise equal numbers of employers and staff.  They include representatives of the Minister for Justice and the Commissioner on the employer side.  The council deals with a wide range of matters, including paying conditions, duties, accommodation standards, the allocation of living accommodation, superannuation, leave, recruitment, promotion and discipline.  The staff side may request  that a matter be placed on the agenda for discussion. The body seeks to discuss the agreed matters.

The arbitration board has different personnel and may  arbitrate of claims for pay adjustments, working hours, leave, and certain other terms of employment .  Only certain claims may be subject to arbitration. They must first be discussed with the council.  There must be disagreement at council level.

There is a special system of Garda compensation for  personal injury or death in the course of duty. It covers injuries maliciously inflicted on members in the performance of their duties, whether on or off-duty.  Accidental injury or those not connected with the discharge of police duties are not covered.  Malicious injuries while off duty and unconnected with membership of the Gardai are not covered.

There is a prescribed form of application.  Ministerial consent is required. The matter is heard by a single judge whose decision as final. There is an appeal on a point of law.  Legislation sets out the criteria under which the assessment of compensation is made. An application may be made by the dependents in the case of death.

Members of the Garda Siochana may bring legal actions for negligence, for death or personal injury in the normal way.

The Department of Justice is responsible for the administration of the business, generally of public services in connection with law, justice, public order and police and all powers duties and functions connected with them. The department has responsibility for the administrative aspects of policing It was not contemplated that the Garda Siochana would be a direct organ of government with its members being employed by the Department.

When the Ministers and Secretaries Act was passed, the Garda Siochana  legislation and organization has already taken shape. The level of control and integration of the Garda Siochana and the Department of Justice is significantly less than that in the case of the Department of Defence for the Army.

Legally, the Garda Siochana is not under the control of or subordinate to of the Minister for Justice. Although it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution as an independent office of state, it is a distinct body, which is legally independent from the Department.  The Department has no operational control over Garda Siochana.  As a matter of convention, the Minister for Justice does not attempt to interfere with operational control of the Gardai.

Despite the legal independence of the Garda Siochana, individually and collectively from the Department and Minister,  in practice the Minister has significant financial and organizational input into the entire force. The Commissioner has general direction and control of the e force, subject to Ministerial regulation.  The Minister  does not have direct power to override the Commissioner\’s operation and direction of the force.

The Minister has significant control, in effect, in relation to financial matters, pay terms and conditions.  There is an input into the high-level appointments. The Minister may make regulation in relation to the efficiency of the force and  its internal management.  These provisions are unlikely to be interpreted as to allow and significant degree of operational control.  It is  understood to be  limited to structural and administrative aspects.

The Department has primary powers in relation to increases and reduction in members in particular areas.  In practice, the Minister  have left deployment and resources authority to the Commissioner.

The government is empowered to remove the Garda Commissioner. In a number of infamous s instances,  the early late 1970s and early 1980s,  successive governments removed their predecessor’s appointee as Commissioner.

In the case of Garvey  v. the Ireland, the Supreme Court held that the Garda Commissioner could not be dismissed without fair procedures. However, once the government followed fair procedures, it has substantive power to remove the Commissioner was unconditional. Although the office is  held at the pleasure of the government, a failure to follow fair procedures was subject to judicial review.

The Department of Finance has ultimate veto on financial matters. The Garda Siochana is subject to the estimates procedure, as in the case of other state expenditure.

The Commissioners and assistant Commissioners prepare estimates of services under their remit. These are transmitted to the Commissioner who provides an overall estimate and submits it to the Department of Justice. The estimate contains a breakdown of the expenditure on each of the general and specific programs. The estimate is subject to the ultimate approval of the Department of Finance and must be approved by the Dail.

The Garda Siochana Act 1958 allowed for the admission of women. The Garda Siochana Act 1972 abolished the division of the ranks into officers and men. However, the officer rank and non-officer rank remains.


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