Whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe has welcomed the appointment of Noirín O’Sullivan as Garda commissioner, saying she had a "positive attitude" to reform.
The man who exposed the penalty points abuses, which contributed to the fall of former commissioner Martin Callinan, said he felt the new boss would implement the necessary changes.
The Garda Representative Association said the “cream always rises” and Ms O’Sullivan’s appointment sent a clear message that the leadership could be found inside the force.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors also welcomed the appointment, saying the commissioner had been operating with “one hand behind her back” since she was made interim commissioner last March.
AGSI general secretary John Redmond said that Ms O’Sullivan had major issues to deal with, including the administrative burden of sergeants and the lack of supervision of inexperienced gardaí, as well as falling Garda numbers and low morale.
Another whistleblower, former garda John Wilson, said Ms O’Sullivan was not the person for the job and said it would take an outsider to reform the force.
Fianna Fáil welcomed the appointment, but Independent TD Mick Wallace said he had spent the last two years pointing out the problems within the gardaí and “then they go and appoint an insider”.
She is the first woman to lead the force. Her appointment means the bulk of top justice posts are headed by women, including the Minister for Justice, the chair of the new Policing Authority, the Chief Justice, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General, and the Chief State Solicitor.
Ms O’Sullivan only had her interview on Monday, along with two other candidates, in what was the second round of the process.
The Public Appointments Service made one recommendation to the Government and yesterday the Cabinet agreed her appointment. Ms O’Sullivan was informed at around 2.15pm, just before the news went public.
Sgt McCabe told the Irish Examiner: “I welcome her appointment and I feel she will encourage change. From my dealings with her, from meeting her and on the phone, I would class her attitude as positive.”
PJ Stone, secretary general of the GRA said: “We welcome the appointment. The cream always rises. It sends a clear message that the leadership can be found within the men and women of An Garda Síochána.”
Ms O’Sullivan said: “We will put the victims of crime at the centre of everything we do and ensure crimes are investigated thoroughly and professionally.”
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the force faced many challenges, including implementing a programme of reform, modernisation and investment.
She said: “I believe Noirín O’Sullivan, with her experience and proven leadership capacity, is exceptionally well placed to deliver on this programme.”
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