Authority fears Garda boss age limit may stall entries

The Policing Authority has expressed fears that the Government’s refusal to change the mandatory retirement age for the Garda chief, currently set at 60, might “narrow the field” of candidates for the job.

The competition for the next Garda Commissioner was launched last month by the Public Appointments Service following extensive discussions within and between the authority and the Department of Justice.

These have been taking place since former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan dramatically retired without notice last September.

In the minutes of its last meeting, the authority members had welcomed measures that had been taken to address their concerns relating to the age of candidates applying for the commissioner position.

However, the minutes added: [Members] were disappointed that the mandatory retirements age remains at 60 years on the basis that it may narrow the field of candidates suitable for appointment.”

They confirmed that the Public Appointments Service has requested nominations for the selection panel and said two people have been suggested. As previously reported in the Irish Examiner the composition of the panel is unclear, although the Department of Justice will also have a representative on it.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said it is expected that the process will be completed by the autumn.

The minutes show that a key new position in the Garda, that of overall data boss, remains vacant after no suitable candidates were found after a recruitment process. This position has been described as a key part of the organisation’s reform and in reassuring the public that data quality was a top priority for Garda HQ.

The minutes said a report from the Public Appointments Service showed the recruitment process for the chief data officer had not “identified a suitable candidate”.

There have also been issues regarding approval for the position of head of internal audit at principal officer level as well as difficulties in expanding the panel of interviewers for sergeant and inspector promotions.

In its private meeting with acting commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin and his team in February, authority members “expressed continuing frustration” at the delays by the Garda in providing material requested by the authority. It said late or partial provision is “interfering” with the ability of the authority to do its work.

Members said they are dissatisfied that the authority received no communication from the Garda in relation to implementing recommendations on the Fennelly Report (on the recording of phonecalls at Garda stations) until the day before a meeting on the matter.

This follows the failure of the gardaí to send the authority its Jobstown review until the night before it was due to be discussed.

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