Summer-school honour for Garda Commissioner Conroy

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy is to be honoured at the Humbert Summer School for his work on piloting garda reforms, it emerged today.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy is to be honoured at the Humbert Summer School for his work on piloting garda reforms, it emerged today.

The State's most senior garda officer will receive the Special Merit Award at the event in Ballina tomorrow evening.

The Co Mayo-born commissioner completed four years at the helm of the 14,000-strong Gardaí in July.

Humbert School director John Cooney said Mr Conroy was chosen for the award to recognise his achievements in pushing through difficult reforms during his term.

“He has a low-key style but is a very efficient professional police officer,” said Mr Cooney. “He has ushered the Garda Síochana into the 21st Century and it can take its place alongside other modern police forces across Europe and the world.”

Mr Conroy used his term as commissioner to improve professionalism within the force and to increase accountability of his officers. He backed the set-up of the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission which has already begun its work.

The Commissioner and former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell also helped establish the Garda Reserve despite initial vehement opposition from the GRA and the AGSI. The first recruits graduated last December.

Mr Conroy’s tenure also coincided with damaging revelations tumbling out of the Morris and Abbeylara Tribunals and he was later forced to issue apologies to injured parties and discipline officers.

Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny were honoured at the summer school last year.

The partner and sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney received an award at the event in 2005.

Mr Conroy joined the Garda Síochana in 1963 and served as a detective in Dublin districts of Finglas, Kevin Street, Cabra, Store Street and Santry.

He was also posted to the Central Detective Unit and at the Crime and Security Section at Garda Headquarters.

He was Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations from 1996 to 2003 when he had responsibility for crime investigation, drugs enforcement, security matters and tactical planning.

He is a graduate of policing courses at the FBI Academy and the FBI National Executive Institute.

Meanwhile the impact on the mid west region of the removal of the Heathrow slots from Shannon Airport will be discussed at the Humbert Summer School today.

Co Clare-based sociologist Fr Harry Bohan and Knock Airport boss Liam Scollan are among the keynote speakers.

New Mayo TD Dara Calleary will also take part in the event at the Newman Institute in Ballina.

The 21st Summer School commemorates French republican General Jean Joseph Humbert who sailed to Co Mayo with 1,100 soldiers during the 1798 Rebellion.

The themes of this year’s four-day event will focus on social change and multiculturalism in Ireland and the EU’s 50th anniversary.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate John Hume will deliver the annual School Peace Address in St Patrick's Church of Ireland cathedral in Killala on Sunday.

The Ambassador of Romania, Silvia Davidoiu will speak on the theme of multiculturalism tomorrow.

Other speakers in coming days include Connacht-Ulster MEP Jim Higgins, Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke and Bishop of Tuam and Killala, Rt Revd Richard Henderson.

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