Garda bosses are working on plans for Donegal to be restored as a standalone Division in the force.
It follows confirmation that a proposal to amalgamate Donegal into a three-county Division with Sligo and Leitrim has been shelved following a review.
Chief Superintendent Aidan Glacken, who took part in a review alongside other senior Gardai, says that it is not yet clear how the standalone division will look.
Chief Superintendent Glacken told a meeting of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee (JPC) in Lifford on Friday that an impact assessment and an implementation plan are being prepared to determine what the future will look like.
“It is my intention that we will bring someone from the implementation team to provide an overview of what the Donegal Division will look like,” Chief Superintendent Glacken said.
“I am not aware of what that will be, but I intend for everyone to be informed. The so-called operating model will still be in place in this Division. The make-up of that is to be established regarding finance, HR, administration and removing the bureaucratic roles from Superintendents will continue.”
He said a full-time Superintendent will be appointed to oversee performance and governance, although the ‘hard facts’ have yet to be announced to the local management team.
The review was requested by the Garda Commissioner and conducted by an Assistant Commissioner, the Garda Senior Leadership Team has decided to re-configure the composition of certain three-county Divisions under the Garda Operating Model.
Senior Gardai in Donegal, as well as the Donegal Public Participation Network (PPN), who represent 653 community groups across the county, had urged the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, to keep Donegal as a standalone Division.
Donegal is surrounded by 1,100km of coastline, has a 100km border with Northern Ireland and is in close proximity to large urban centres like Derry, Strabane and Enniskillen.
The PPN pointed out that Commissioner Harris met with the Donegal JPC in January and heard first-hand the concerns of members. Subsequently, the JPC sought support from the Policing Authority and the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.
The news that Donegal will be a standalone Division was welcomed by JPC members.
Councillor Michael McBride said: “I always felt that this was the right thing to do. We have talked a lot about the border, the size of the county, which is a very rural county, and a wide range of issues. I am delighted that this decision has been made.”
Former Garda Sergeant James Trearty, a PPN representative on the JPC, thanked the politicians who publicly supported the campaign. He said: “Thankfully sense prevailed eventually after a long, drawn-out campaign initiated by members here.”
The meeting heard that the total number of Gardai and staff now in the Donegal Division is at 524, including 460 Garda members and 64 staff. There are 36 detectives in Donegal as well as five detective sergeants, as well as one sergeant and eight Gardai in the divisional protective services unit (DPSU), which is tasked with the investigation of specialised crime, including sexual crime, child abuse, domestic abuse and online child exploitation.