Top Garda job ‘will need bigger salary’

If An Garda Síochána is to attract top talent from overseas for the commissioner job then the salary will have to be increased significantly, the Government has said.

It has also emerged that the Department of Public Expenditure agreed last Friday with the Department of Justice to take into account Nóirín O’Sullivan’s period as acting Garda Commissioner to maximise her lump sum and pension entitlements, totalling a €300,000 lump sum and annual pension of €90,000.

The process to replace Ms O’Sullivan, who retired suddenly on Sunday, is already underway, with the Policing Authority drawing up job specifications.

The authority will consult with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on the competition, which could take many months.

The developments come as senior Garda management, shocked by Ms O’Sullivan’s retirement, meet this morning in a bid to “steady the ship” and prepare the organisation for further damaging reports and controversies in the coming weeks.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said there was now an opportunity to look abroad: “I discussed this matter this morning with the chair of the policing authority. They will meet over the course of the next few weeks and consider that.

“I believe it is an opportunity in the appointment of a new commissioner that perhaps we broaden the base, that we have a look at the labour market, and that would ultimately lead to the appointment of an expert.”

He said this “may include an international selection process”.

Asked could this involve breaking the €180,000 cap paid to Ms O’Sullivan, he said: “It’s important in the first instance to look at who might be available. Obviously, the process is just commencing. The policing authority will be discussing the issue with the PAS.”

Authority chair Josephine Feehily said last April that the “package” for the next commissioner would have to be improved to attract top candidates from overseas.

One minister told the Irish Examiner the salaries for chiefs of police in other countries made the role here seem unattractive: “If you look at New Zealand — the same population as here — their chief of police there is on €400,000. Who the heck would want to come here?”

Any salary change for Ms O’Sullivan’s successor would need to be approved by Cabinet and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The Department of Justice confirmed Ms O’Sullivan will receive almost €300,000 lump sum and annual pension of €90,000.

A spokesman said: “Former Commissioner O’Sullivan continued to be paid at the rank of Deputy Garda Commissioner, when appointed acting Garda commissioner.

“During her time as acting commissioner, former Commissioner O’Sullivan carried out all the responsibilities of Garda commissioner.

“Following consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, it was agreed that the appropriate level of remuneration for the relevant period was that of Garda commissioner and that the period should be reckonable for pension purposes.”

Meanwhile, the 17-strong Garda senior leadership team will meet today in a bid to “steady the ship” and prepare for forthcoming controversies, including the Disclosure Tribunal.

“The next few months are going to be absolutely horrendous for organisation,” said one senior source.

It is understood Department of Justice officials were told weeks ago Ms O’Sullivan’s was considering her options. This was passed onto Mr Flanagan and to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

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