Latest: Early start for new Garda commissioner Drew Harris

Latest: Early start for new Garda commissioner Drew Harris

Update 9.15am: Drew Harris has begun his new career as Garda commissioner – at one minute past midnight.

Acting Garda commissioner Donall O Cualain stepped down from his role at 00.01am on Monday, and in line with the Garda Siochana Act, Mr Harris was attested as Garda commissioner and immediately took up the role.

The attestation took place in Kevin Street Divisional Headquarters, Dublin.

In keeping with tradition for such occasions, it was a private meeting with a small number of people present.

Mr Harris, 53, was attested by a Peace Commissioner and signed the Garda Code of Ethics and the Official Secrets Act.

He will now take charge of the general direction and control of An Garda Siochana from his office in Garda Headquarters in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

He is responsible to the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform Charlie Flanagan for the activities of the service.

The commissioner has a private secretary in the form of a superintendent, together with an administrative staff.

Mr Harris, the former deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), is a father of four who joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1983.

His father, RUC superintendent Alwyn Harris, was murdered in an IRA car bomb in 1989 at the age of 51 on his way to a church service near the family’s Lisburn home.

Mr Harris has been PSNI deputy chief constable for the past four years.

Comment from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris:I am incredibly proud and honoured to take the oath of office and be…

Posted by An Garda Síochána on Sunday, September 2, 2018

He has relinquished his sworn oath to serve Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, and has switched allegiance to the Garda and Republic of Ireland.

Mr Harris has also applied for an Irish passport.

His salary of approximately €180,000 now jumps to €250,000 as Garda commissioner, and he will travel in an armoured vehicle, under escort, as he is considered a target for dissident republicans.

The appointment of Mr Harris has been the subject of much controversy.

A number of concerns were raised about him taking the role from a security perspective.

Last month, Ciaran MacAirt applied to the High Court to conduct a judicial review into the Government’s decision to appoint Mr Harris.

Mr MacAirt’s grandmother, Kathleen Irvine, was one of 15 people killed by an explosion at McGurk’s Bar in Belfast in December 1971.

The bomb was planted by the UVF but the RUC initially blamed the IRA, saying the bomb had exploded accidentally.

Drew Harris took up his role at 00.01 on Monday (An Garda Siochana/PA)
Drew Harris took up his role at 00.01 on Monday (An Garda Siochana/PA)

The previous commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan announced her retirement in September 2017.

An Garda Siochana has come under intense scrutiny in the last year, and has been labelled as in dire need of reform.

False breath test figures, missing homicide data, issues with the finances at Templemore training college and the pending outcome of the Disclosures Tribunal are all facing Mr Harris as he takes on the role.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has welcomed the appointment of the new Commissioner, saying strong leadership is needed as the force goes through change.

Deputy General Secretary of the AGSI Antoinette Cunningham says a number of issues will need to be addressed.

"There was a cultural audit completed in May of this year that outlined a lot of issues around morale, promotions, training, so all of those issues I'm sure will have to be addressed by the new Garda Commissioner," she said.

There's also a lot of accountability issues, there's resourcing, policing within communities, so I think there's a lot of challenges facing the new Commissioner."

- Press Association and Digital Desk

Earlier: Drew Harris promises to 'protect the vulnerable' as he is sworn in as Garda Commissioner

Update 7.03am: Ireland has a new Garda Commissioner.

Dónall Ó Cualáin stepped down as Acting Commissioner at midnight last night with Drew Harris immediately taking up the new role.

The transition was made at a private ceremony at the newly refurbished Kevin Street Headquarters, in Dublin, where Commissioner Harris signed the Garda Code of Ethics and the Official Secrets Act.

His first official act as Commissioner has seen Mr Harris issue a statement promising to protect the vulnerable.

To that end, he claims defending the State from the threat of terrorism is his top priority.

He has also pledged to deliver to the highest possible operational and ethical standards, improve our systems, processes and training so people have the right tools and skills to do their job effectively.

In apparent reference to the treatment of whistleblowers he claims he'll be more open to concerns raised both internally and externally.

Summing up his stance Drew Harris says he envisages an An Garda Síochána that is responsive, accountable and fit for purpose in a modern and progressive Ireland.

Digital Desk


More in this Section

Jail for rape and abuse of brother: 'He became my biggest villain'- victimJail for rape and abuse of brother: 'He became my biggest villain'- victim

Irish man on Europol’s most wanted listIrish man on Europol’s most wanted list

Gardaí have taken 200 statements in Santina Cawley inquiryGardaí have taken 200 statements in Santina Cawley inquiry

'Not of Christian origin': Bishop of Waterford writes to schools criticising yoga in the classroom'Not of Christian origin': Bishop of Waterford writes to schools criticising yoga in the classroom


Lifestyle

These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner