Recruitment of new Garda Commissioner could be delayed

Commission on the Future of Policing says there could be big changes in the role

Recruitment of new Garda Commissioner could be delayed

File photo of Garda Headquarters in Dublin's Phoenix Park | Image: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

The chair of the Policing Authority says she is troubled by the idea of waiting until 2019 to appoint a new Garda Commissioner, but there is merit to the idea.

It would allow the Commission on the Future of Policing to complete their work.

Head of the Commission on the Future of Policing Kathleen O'Toole has written to the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan suggesting that he delays appointing a commissioner until after their work is done.

She argues that with all the reforms needed, the job specification for the role will be vastly different by the end of next year.

In reply, Minister Flanagan says: "In my discussions with the chair of the Policing Authority about a process to identify and appoint a permanent Commissioner to An Garda Síochána, we agreed that it is crucial that a deliberate and considered recruitment process takes place so that the best possible candidate is appointed.

"I know the commission shares this objective and I am grateful for its input which I will carefully consider.

"I particularly welcome the Commission's offer to provide detailed advice on building capacity in the short term."

But at the Oireachtas Justice Committee, TD Mick Wallace could not justify the wait.

"Given that the Garda Inspectorate report of 2015 has outlined in wonderful detail exactly how we should run a police force, how in God's name can we justify not putting a new commissioner in place for the best part of a year?".

Policing Authority Chair Josephine Feehily says they will consider what to do - and the idea has merit.

"If I was a candidate, I kind of might want to know what job was going to be laid out before me in the future, before deciding whether to apply - and I think that's the essence of the point she's making.

"On the other hand, the idea of a lacuna troubles me".

Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy said it would make sense to hold off on the appointment.

"I fail to see how a candidate of quality would look at a situation where they're being asked to apply to a job and being simultaneously told that the job could be effectively gone within 12 months of their appointment.

"It would deter, in my mind, any candidate of substance from applying".

It could mean the acting Garda Commissioner will stay in the role for more than 18 months.

With the Future of Policing report not due until next September, waiting for it could mean it will be 2019 before a new Garda Commissioner is in place.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann