New Garda Commissioner may be recruited internationally

The Minister for Justice says all options will be considered throughout the recruitment process

New Garda Commissioner may be recruited internationally

Charlie Flanagan. Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated 18:10

The Minister for Justice has suggested that the next Garda Commissioner may be recruited from outside the State.

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan announced her decision to retire yesterday evening.

In a statement, she said her job had become an "unending cycle of requests, questions, instructions and public hearings" - insisting this was affecting her ability to reform the force.

The Policing Authority has already begun searching for her replacement and is expected to make a recommendation to government in the coming months.

In a statement this evening, the Authority said it had "immediately commenced consideration and research on the process to identify and appoint the next Commissioner of the Garda Síochána."

"While section 9 of the Garda Síocháná Act 2005 sets out the statutory requirements, this will be the first time that the new legislative process is utilised," it said.

"In practical terms, the Authority will be working with the Public Appointments Service and the Department of Justice and Equality over the coming weeks to agree the precise requirements for the role and to formally initiate the selection competition."

It said the Authority's chairperson Josephine Feehily spoke to the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan this morning - adding that they had "agreed that it is crucial that a deliberate and considered process takes place to ensure the right candidate is selected."  

Speaking this afternoon, Minister Flanagan said all options will be considered throughout the process:

“I believe it is an opportunity, on the appointment of a new Commissioner, that perhaps we broaden the base, that we have a look at the labour market and that we ultimately lead to the appointment of an expert and somebody who is best placed in order to complete the root and branch programme of modernisation and change,” he said.

Garda scandals

Mrs O’Sullivan quit her position following a turbulent three years as commissioner.

The Disclosures Tribunal is currently investigating whether whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by senior garda management.

More recently, it was revealed that members of the force recorded 1.5 million roadside breath tests that never occurred.

Mrs O’Sullivan was also strongly criticised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for her failure to inform the government about financial irregularities at the Templemore Garda Training College.

Reform

Minister Flanagan said he hopes the gardaí can now “move on to a better place” adding that Mrs O’Sullivan’s replacement will need to renew and modernise the force.

“It has been a very difficult time,” he said.

“There have been challenges and there have been problems and I am very keen to ensure that we can move on to a better place and that is why I will be working closely with all of the agencies involved who have a role.”

International recruitment

The Minister’s comments come as Sinn Féin urged the government to look internationally for Mrs O’Sullivan’s successor.

The party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said other members of senior garda management should not be offered the job – claiming they are too entrenched in the culture of the organisation to head up the level of reform that is required.

“There needs to be some soul-searching done by individuals who are around the organisation for a long time,” she said.

“They need to ask themselves honestly, are they part of the problem? Are they part of the solution?

"In any event, the government, the Policing Authority and the new Commissioner will have to be absolutely forthright and consistent that the new broom sweeps clean.”

She said the current salary of €180,000 a year should be enough to attract quality international candidates – despite concern in some quarters that the package will have to be increased to be competitive.

She warned that any incoming candidate will need to be reassured that there is sufficient “political seriousness” behind the push to completely reform the organisation.