Senior Garda ‘taken aback’ by interview

An assistant garda commissioner has claimed he was asked by Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan during interviews for the position of deputy commisisoner about his views on “left-wing political extremism in Ireland” and on left- wing politicians.

Assistant Commissioner John Fintan Fanning, who has initiated High Court action alleging an “unfair” competition was held for the post of deputy commissioner, said he was “taken aback” and “uncomfortable” at such questions.

He also claims Ms O’Sullivan should have declared a potential conflict of interest prior to the interviews and recused herself from them.

Recent media reports suggested three candidates earmarked to be recommended to the Government for appointment were the same three assistant commissioners whom Ms O’Sullivan personally selected to be acting deputy commissioners last July, he claims.

Paul McGarry, counsel for Mr Fanning, secured permission from Mr Justice Paul Gilligan to serve short notice of his proceedings over the competition. The case is against the Public Appointments Service (PAS), Ireland, and the attorney general and the matter was returned to Tuesday.

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In his proceedings, Mr Fanning wants an inunciton restraining the PAS taking any further steps, pending the outcome of his case, in appointing any persons as deputy commissioner.

He also wants declarations that the procedures adopted for recruitment to the post infringed his constitutional rights, including to fair procedures and natural justice.

He claims that, during his March 10 interview for the position, he had, in response to a question from another member of the interview panel, discussed the threat from the terrrorist group IS and also discussed domestic terrorism.

The commissioner continued and asked him what about “left-wing political extremism in Ireland” and what were his views in relaiton to left-wing politicians.

He said he was “uncomfortable” being asked such a question as he was conscious he has a statutory obligation not to affiliate or associate with any political group. He said he found himself in a positon where his superior officer and commissioner was asking a direct quesiton he had to deal with and believed it was wrong to ask a question at interview in relation to his political views.

The interview then concluded and he considered the line of quesioning “very unfair” and presented to the interview board a picture that included reference to his possible political views. He did not believe other candidates were asked a similar type of question, he added.

He was told the following day he had not been sucessful at the interview, he said. He sought feedback and was told he did not demonstrate “the breadth of strategic thinking to progress to the next stage”. A review was later carried out at his request but no input was sought from him before he was given the results of that.

He was later told the process of selection for a role to be filled by Government appointment was excluded from the Code of Practice of the PAS.

While PAS had later agreed to have the process independently reviewed by an aribtraror, an agrement could not be reached on who should be arbitrator, he said.

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