§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to improve the pay and pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and, if so, when; is it intended to abolish the rank 1329W of acting-sergeant and to abolish the cadet system, or provide for the officering the force on the same principle as in the case of the Dublin police; and is the unification of the forces in contemplation?
§ Mr. HEALY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction existing amongst the Royal Irish Constabulary head constables owing to the manner in which promotions to the rank of district inspector are now made. whereby senior men with long and meritorious service are passed over and junior head constables without special merit and with only two or three years' service in that rank are made inspectors; whether the Inspector-General considers it equitable to pass over efficient and senior men who have been recommended by their county inspectors; how many head constables have been so passed over in the past five years: is the promotion of district inspectors to county inspectors given entirely by seniority except in cases of alleged unfitness; and, if so, why should not promotion of head constables be similarly governed; is an age limit fixed in their case under an antiquated rule preventing further advancement when no such restriction obtains in any other rank; whether at present, out of a list of over 230 head constables there are only four under the age limit, and will he have the age limit which thus kills the hope of promotion abolished or extended; has the operation of this limit resulted in competitive examinations for the rank of district inspector being held when the number of competitors barely exceeded the number of vacancies; and, at a recent examination, were there only three competitors for two places?
§ Mr. DUKE
A memorial requesting that the age limit (forty-eight years), fixed by the Regulations for promotion to the rank of district inspector should be extended was recently considered, and it was decided that it would be detrimental to the public service to extend the age limit, even temporarily. In the promotion of district inspectors to the rank of county inspector, while the claims of first-1330W class district inspectors are considered by the Promotion Board in the order of seniority, and any officer who is not considered fully qualified for the higher rank is passed over, the Regulations provide for the promotion of any officer, irrespective of seniority for distinguished police service and superior qualifications. An age limit has always been considered necessary in the case of head constables promoted to be district inspectors, as the necessity for active and vigorous men to carry out the duties is much greater than in the case of subordinate ranks. The present Inspector-General concurs in the view of his predecessors that forty-eight years of age is the outside limit for such promotions. During the past five years 176 head constables were passed over owing to their being forty-eight years of age or over. There are 232 head constables in the force. Of these, thirty-three are at present under forty-eight years of age, but only four have two years' service and over in the rank of head constable, the minimum service required before a head constable is eligible for promotion to the rank of district inspector. At the competitive examination of head constables for promotion to the rank of district inspector which was held in October, 1917, three head constables competed and two places were given. At the examination held in January. 1917, five head constables competed and two places were given, and at the examination held in May, 1916, six head constables competed and three places were given. The maximum age for the competitive examination is forty-five years. A head constable who fails to get promotion by competition is, of course, eligible for promotion on the seniority list up to forty-eight years of age.
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that under the terms of the Irish Police (Naval and Military Service) Act, 1915, the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who have volunteered for service in the Army are precluded from benefiting by the increased pay recently granted to those serving in the Army; whether he is aware that in consequence of this increased contribution from the Army authorities the constabulary allowance to the wives of the men serving has been reduced by a corresponding amount; and whether he will take steps to see that the wives and dependants of Irish policemen now serving in the Army shall not be deprived in this manner of the increased allowance which the State has given soldiers and their dependants?1331W
§ Mr. DUKE
Allowances to families of married members of the Royal Irish Constabulary serving with the Army are paid from the Constabulary Vote as an addition to the Army separation allowances under the authority of Section I (1) (b) of the Irish Police (Naval and Military Service) Act, 1915, as amended by Section 2 (3) of the Constabulary and Police (Ireland) Act of 1916. The amount payable from the Constabulary Vote must be so regulated that when added to the Army separation allowance and a sum of 7s. 5d. per week, the rate fixed to represent Army pay, the total shall not exceed the weekly amount the constable was receiving from police funds before enlistment. Every increase in the amount paid as separation allowance owing to increase in family, increase of rates, or the husband's promotion to be corporal or sergeant involves a reduction in the allowance paid from police funds, and adjustments in individual cases are frequent. A general reduction was recently made owing to the increase of 5s. 10d. per week in the case of sergeants and 3s. 6d. in the case of men of lower rank in the amount of the Army separation allowances. The reduction will be compensated for to some extent by the increased war bonus of 2s. 6d. per week recently granted to the Irish police.