The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors urged the Government to be “cautious” in taking the unprecedented step of appointing an external candidate to replace ex-Commissioner Martin Callinan.
The association praised Acting Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, with one senior official describing her as having a “less dictatorial” approach to the job.
AGSI deputy general secretary John Jacob said the Government should bring in change incrementally into the force, rather than in one big bang.
“There’s suggestions the Government might look outside the Garda organisation for a commissioner and of course that’s their prerogative,” said Mr Jacob. “What commissioner they appoint we will work with, we will be happy to work with.
“At the minute they are talking about implementing a police authority, and we are now looking at perhaps an outside police officer taking control of the force. We would be cautious, and ask the Government to be cautious.”
Mr Jacob said incremental change is easier to implement than a “big bang approach” and “we would just say to the Government don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
“Just because we have a perceived crisis in Garda management doesn’t mean the officers that are there are not capable or able to do the job,” said Mr Jacob. “I’ve worked with many of the senior officers in this organisation and we have a great officer corps given the opportunity. They have the ability, given the resources.”
Mr Jacob hit out at TDs who described the force as “dysfunctional”. “I want to reject that out of hand,” he said. “I would like those remarks to the withdrawn. We are not a dysfunctional organisation. Ask the people we serve on the ground.”
On Acting Commissioner O’Sullivan, Mr Jacob said: “I’ve had the opportunity to work with her. She’s a very capable officer and we’re delighted she’s taking the opportunity to consult with the organisation and the rank and file to discover what our issues on the ground are and we will readily share those with her.”
AGSI vice-president Antoinette Cunningham also praised the chief. “I have met her on a number of occasions,” said Ms Cunningham. “She’s very approachable, capable and competent and, say, less dictatorial, a fresh approach and I certainly look forward to working in the future with her.”
An experienced detective who investigated some of the country’s top criminals has been honoured for helping to raise almost €1m for charity.
Detective Sergeant Adrian Whitelaw, 52, received a special excellence award at the conference in Killarney.
The senior officer, along with Inspector Deirdre Gill, was recognised for his work with the Garda’s Tour de Force charity cycle team.
“I accept the award on behalf of everyone who has been part of Tour de Force and who has put the work into a very worthwhile charity,” said Det Sgt Whitelaw.
“The work that has gone on over the years has been incredible and I can’t thank everyone enough. We will continue to support the communities that we serve and this will include raising money for other charities.”
Tour de Force was established in 1991 by to raise funds for charity. Since then, Garda cyclists have held a series of special cycles across Europe and America.