A Dublin-based garda has complained about "internal corruption" within the force and the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has backed up the officer's assertion that gardaí can be promoted through nepotism rather than ability.
Similar to political dynasties, there is a history within An Garda Síochána of members of the same families joining the force. Because of this, it has been claimed young officers with family connections can gain promotions and transfers unfairly.
A young garda said there is "low morale" within the force because of officers using family connections to gain promotions and transfers.
"Those with connections have gained detective spots before those with more experience and expertise. Those with connections have gained indoor or office jobs. Those with connections have ridden roughshod over disciplinary regulations due to their 'pull'," he said.
Michael O'Boyce, president of the GRA, said young officers using their family connections to get ahead was an "ongoing issue".
"It's something we have to always be aware of and keep an eye on it. It is covered under the Garda code of ethics. I'm aware of one case where a young garda got promoted to a position because of another garda.
"The young garda wasn't making an issue of who his relation was. This other officer saw to it that he got promoted to try and ingratiate himself with this young garda's relation, who was senior to him.
"The young garda in question was just used in this case," he said.
"There's always been suspicion over the years about people getting promoted because of their family connections. What we're more concerned about is that there's always been a strong suggestion that people can get transferred because of friendships more so than family connections.
"I would have a view that would be more prevalent than nepotism," O'Boyce added.
The rules state that when gardaí are sworn into the force, they cannot transfer from the first station where they are assigned for two years save for exceptional circumstances. In practice, this rule has been flaunted by young officers with "connections", said the garda source.
"When training at the garda college, we're told that all transfers depend on work return – the amount of summons, tickets, arrests, pieces of criminal intelligence and charge sheets accrued over time and your sick record.
"In practice, this is a nonsense to the extent that when a garda hears of a colleague submitting a transfer request, their first question is not as regards the desired division but 'do you have any pull?'"
O'Boyce said he was not aware of the practice of gardaí being authorised for transfers before their two-year probationary period was complete without just cause.
The garda source added: "What vexes me more than anything else is the extent to which such corrupt practices lead to a denigration of morale. How can gardaí be expected to remain self-motivated and productive if the level of internal corruption is of such pandemic proportions?"
O'Boyce said he has raised the issue of people being promoted ahead of more capable gardaí with the commissioner Fachtna Murphy.