Civilian might not be regarded as ‘real Garda commissioner’

Department of Justice’s comments to Government also point to State security risk


A candidate with no experience of policing who was appointed Garda commissioner might not be regarded by Garda members as the “real commissioner”, Cabinet Ministers have been warned.

Advice prepared by the Department of Justice on the recruitment process to find the new commissioner suggests Garda members may instead look on the head of operational policing as their leader.

Ministers have also been warned there is a risk that a foreign candidate may be subject to, or seek to promote, the interests of their country of origin at the expense of Irish national security interests.

Meanwhile, if crime increased or an international terrorist attack occurred in the Republic, a candidate with no policing experience might be blamed for that situation, the documents indicate.

However, despite the findings, the Government has decided to open the recruitment competition to foreign nationals. It has also decided that policing experience, while advantageous, is not essential.

Foreign national

The briefing documents drawn-up by the department for Cabinet Ministers also reveals the vast majority of other EU member states would not be willing to have a foreign national as their head of police or to lead their state security agency.

Of the 24 nations that responded to questions from the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU, 23 said they would not consider foreign nationals for the top posts.

Some would not even consider candidates with dual citizenship.

The views of other member states were canvassed as part of the Government’s research into appointing the next Garda commissioner.

Wider pool

However, the department briefing documents stress that other EU States have a multiplicity of police forces and so a wider pool of candidates to choose from for senior policing and security posts.

Separately, in its observations to Government, the Policing Authority said the need for Garda reform was now so great it was arguably more important for the next commissioner to have change management experience rather than policing experience.

Because of that, eligibility for the post of commissioner should not be narrowed by excluding foreign nationals or those with no policing experience.

Nóirín O’Sullivan stood down as Garda commissioner suddenly in September. The process to find a permanent replacement is now beginning.