Calls for new Garda chief to come from abroad

There is a strong desire across the political spectrum for an international person to be appointed as the next Garda commissioner.

Nuala O'Loan
Nuala O'Loan

The Former Northern Ireland Policing Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, led calls that Nóirín O’Sullivan’s successor come from outside the gardaí.

Ms O’Loan said Ms O’Sullivan’s departure seemed “almost inevitable” because of the serious issues that had come to light during her time at the helm of the force.

“Given the extent of the problems within An Garda Síochána, somebody coming in from outside would have a better opportunity of doing the job,” she told RTÉ’s News at One.

She added: “They need somebody who has extensive experience, who has experience of change and who has the determination to bring about change.”

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan did not rule out the possibility of recruiting from within the force in the future.

But pointing to the controversies currently plaguing the gardaí, he said “it would be of benefit to have a civilian or someone from outside”.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald said Ms O’Sullivan’s departure had provided the Government with an opportunity to implement major change in the force and said it should look to fill the position internationally.

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

“The Government and the Policing Authority and the new commissioner will have to be absolutely forthright and insistent that the new broom sweeps clean.”

Social Democrat Róisín Shortall said exceptional measures are now needed, including an entirely new senior management team.

“This issue can’t be tackled simply by recruiting a new Garda commissioner and then continuing with business as usual,” she said.

“Putting a new person at the head of a dysfunctional organisation without addressing the causes of the deep-rooted cultural problems within the force is a recipe for disaster.

“It is time for exceptional measures, starting with the recruitment of a whole new senior management team, some of whom should be recruited from outside this jurisdiction.”

Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesman on justice Martin Conway agreed that the new Garda commissioner should be appointed from outside the ranks of An Garda Síochána.

“I believe that it is in the best interest of An Garda Síochána that the Policing Authority begin a process of headhunting an individual with a proven track record of implementing radical reform,” Mr Conway said.

“It is not uncommon in private industry that a headhunting process is used to find the right person for a senior position such as this as there are many who may not express an interest through an open competition.”


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