Last week’s vote of no confidence in Drew Harris by the Garda Representative Association would not have happened if he were not from Northern Ireland, a leading commentator has claimed.
The GRA has said there are issues with retention, recruitment and discipline in the force.
There is also unhappiness about a return to a rostering system used before the pandemic.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, journalist Alison O’Connor said she believes Gardaí have issues that “need to be sorted” but feels there is an uneasiness about Drew Harris’ background as a Northern Protestant as well.
“I think the very fact of having a confidence vote in the Commissioner would never have happened if Drew Harris was from Cahersiveen or Cork or Clare,” she said.
“I think the fact that he was from North of the border... almost gave permission to the GRA to have that vote.
“Then when I saw the vote, it was a majority in favour, 98.7%, I mean it’s pretty rare you would see a figure that high in ballots such as that, in my experience and the turnout was 85%.”
Ms O'Connor noted that people often search ‘Is Drew Harris Catholic or Protestant?’ on Google - something she thinks suggests uneasiness with his faith.
“Obviously, that’s a question I think that people must ask a lot,” she said.
“I think we don’t even realise it a lot of the time - that we hold this sort of bias, which is even an inherent form of racism, I think.”
Following Ms O’Connor’s interview, a member of An Garda Síochána texted in to say, “I’m extremely offended that Alison O’Connor is implying the vote of no confidence would not have happened if he was from the North.”
The Garda Representative Association has been contacted for comment.
Main image: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to the media. Picture by: Stephen Murphy