Drew Harris appointed Garda Commissioner on €250,000 salary

PSNI-originating recruit has option of bringing own team into Garda Headquarters

Drew Harris: will lead the Garda after  years of controversy and during a period in which the organisation undergoes major reform.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Drew Harris: will lead the Garda after years of controversy and during a period in which the organisation undergoes major reform. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Police Service of Northern Ireland deputy chief constable Drew Harris has been appointed Garda Commissioner for a five-year term.

He will be paid €250,000 per year, a significant increase on the €180,000 he currently earns. Mr Harris will take up his new role in September.

Mr Harris is also permitted to bring his own team into the Garda, though it was unclear if he would take up that option.

Aged 53, he has been a member of the PSNI since he was 19 and served all but two of the intervening years policing in the North.

Some 16 years ago, he spent time away from the PSNI when he completed a two-year secondment as a police officer in Scotland.

His RUC officer father was killed in an IRA car bomb in 1989.

Mr Harris will lead the Garda after years of controversy and during a period when it is intended the organisation undergoes unprecedented reform.

Some of those changes, in a modernisation programme, were commenced by former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Other reforms, which could include taking State security out of the Garda and into a separate entity, will be unveiled in September when the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland reports.

Reform programme

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described Mr Harris’s appointment as “an opportunity for new leadership and improved policing in our communities”.

He added: “He will drive forward our reform programme for An Garda Síochána. His appointment is a good day for Irish policing.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said Mr Harris would take up his role at a “critical time” for the Garda.

“Drew can be assured of my support and that of the Government as he faces the challenge of transforming An Garda Síochána so that it becomes a model of policing excellence, equipped to deal with the huge range of challenges facing police services worldwide.”

Mr Harris was appointed under a new recruitment process, devised by the Policing Authority and run by the Public Appointments Service. The competition was open not only to those outside the Garda but also to those without policing experience.

Chairperson of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said her agency was “very satisfied” to recommend Mr Harris to Government for its consideration and approval.

People’s trust

She was “heartened” by the number of internal and external candidates who had put themselves forward for consideration.

“We look forward to getting to know [Mr Harris] and to working with him in achieving our shared objective of ensuring a modern, professional Garda service which continues to enjoy the trust of the Irish people,” she said.

Mr Harris, a married father of four grown-up children, is originally from Lisburn on the Antrim-Down border.

His appointment represents the first time somebody from outside the State has been recruited into the Garda to lead it.

However, it is not the first time a candidate from outside the force has become commissioner as two civil servants were previously drafted into the Garda to lead it. Michael Kinnane was commissioner from 1938 to 1952; Daniel Costigan held the job for 13 years to 1965.