Seattle police chief appointed to chair garda review

Sinn Féin calls for Garda Commissioner's resignation following fresh evidence contradicting her testimony to the PAC

Seattle police chief appointed to chair garda review

File photo: Kathleen O’Toole at a press conference at the Department of Justice in Dublin, 16-05-2006

The Seattle Chief of Police is to chair the upcoming “root and branch” review of An Garda Síochána.

The appointment of Kathleen O’Toole – who was previously the chief inspector of the Garda Inspectorate – was agreed by Cabinet ministers today.

Ms O'Toole was on the Garda Inspectorate for six years from 2006 and was also a member of the Patten Commission on policing in Northern Ireland. 

She was the first female commissioner of the Boston Police from 2004-2006.

In a statement this afternoon, the Department of Justice said Ms O’Toole’s, “experience and expertise ensures she is uniquely qualified for [the] important task to be undertaken by the Commission.”  

It said the review will undertake a comprehensive examination of all aspects of policing including all functions currently carried out by An Garda Síochána.

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is currently finalising the terms of reference for the commission in consultation with opposition parties - and is to put them to her fellow Cabinet ministers “shortly.” 

Root and Branch review

The review was promised by Minister Fitzgerald in the wake of the recent controversies that have engulfed the force.

Garda officials announced in March that major discrepancies had been discovered in the official garda roadside breath testing figures – with almost one million tests recorded that never occurred.

They also revealed that thousands of court summonses were issued for offences that should have been dealt with by way of fixed penalty notice.

Separately, an internal garda audit revealed a host of financial irregularities at the Garda Training College in Templemore.

The financial mismanagement – which included the use of public money for entertainment, gifts and for clubs and societies – has been slammed by opposition politicians, with Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald insisting that is “very clear that the law was broken."

One instance, which saw €100,000 transferred from a college account to the Garda Boat Club – has been described as “embezzlement” by government TD Alan Farrell.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court judge, Peter Charleton is chairing a public commission of inquiry into allegations of an alleged smear campaign against garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe - which included the misuse of files from Tusla, the child and family agency.


Following the announcement in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams reiterated his call for the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to resign her position.

Deputy Adams was speaking after further contradictions regarding her evidence to the Public Accounts Committee were revealed.

Last week, Commissioner O’Sullivan insisted she had only been informed about the financial issues at Templemore during a “brief meeting” over a cup of tea.

However, the garda human resources director, John Barrett, openly contradicted her evidence - saying the "meeting was over two hours" long and adding that he had kept detailed minutes, which included the order in which people entered and left the room.

The committee today received the lengthy written record of the two-hour meeting from Mr Barrett.

This afternoon, Deputy Adams said there is no confidence left in the commissioner:

“The commissioner’s position is untenable,” he told the Taoiseach in the Dáil. “But it is not easy to understand why you will not remove her from office.”

“There is no rational explanation; the majority of parties here in Leinster House now want the commissioner to go - and you need to act.”

Terms of reference

The broad scope of the review has been known for some time.

The terms of reference are expected to include an examination of the force's culture and ethos - as well accountability, leadership and recruitment and training practices.

The review will be asked to assess Garda management structures and consider whether more civilians should be appointed to senior management positions.

It will also look at best practices in the policing models of other countries, as well as previous reports on policing in Ireland.