Garda boss search begins next month

The Government is due to initiate the process to select a Garda commissioner in December — contrary to calls from the Policing Commission that the process should wait until it reports next September.

In a dramatic intervention just over a month ago, commission chair Kathleen O’Toole wrote to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan warning him that it would be a “serious mistake” to proceed with the appointment until her expert group had completed its work.

The US police chief said the selection process “should begin only” after they reported — saying that it would be unrealistic to expect “credible candidates” to apply in the absence of clarity as to the job.

That letter — which was publicised by the Policing Commission through social media — derailed what were initial stages in the preparation for the selection process, following the shock retirement of Nóirín O’Sullivan on September 10.

Ms O’Toole’s intervention seemed to put back the prospect of the appointment of the new commissioner well into 2019.

Commenting at the time, Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehily said the process was “up in the air”, but said there were concerns, shared by the minister, of a long “lacuna”.

Minutes published from the most recent authority meeting show that the minister had written to it indicating that the Government “would initiate the process for selection of the next commissioner under Section 9 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 in December”.

The minister has indicated, as has Ms Feehily, that once the process starts it would take between four and six months to identify and appoint the commissioner.

A spokesperson for the Policing Commission said: “The commission has conveyed its views in relation to the appointment of a new Garda commissioner.

“Under the relevant legislation, the Policing Authority is working with the Public Appointments Service and the Department of Justice and Equality to agree the precise requirements for the role and to formally initiate the selection competition.”

He added: “The Commission on the Future of Policing is happy to offer the Policing Authority the advice and assistance of the Commission in any way which might be helpful in their current work on the recruitment process.”

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