GRA backs O’Sullivan for permanent commissioner role

‘She’s where she is by merit, having risen through the ranks on an operational basis’

The Garda Representative Association has given its "100 per cent support" to interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan should she apply for the post on a permanent basis.

In comments that offered the full backing of rank and file gardai to Commissioner O’Sullivan, association president John Parker said she should not find herself disadvantaged when applying for the post because she is an internal candidate and because some commentators wanted to “throw the baby out with the bath water”.

Addressing delegates at the GRA conference in Killarney, Mr Parker said she had reached her current office on merit and appointing the first woman ever to the post would be a groundbreaking step. “The commissioner has our 100 per cent support,” he said, echoing the comments of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors a fortnight ago.

While it was “early days”, he believed Commissioner O’Sullivan would be a “uniting force” and that “the organisation would rally behind her”.

Just hours after former commissioner Martin Callinan resigned last month the Government issued a statement saying it would hold an open competition to find his successor.

This was a departure from the traditional practice of the minister for justice of the day effectively selecting a preferred candidate from within the senior ranks of the force for approval by Cabinet.

Mr Parker said believed much of the debate around the recent Garda controversies had been knee-jerk and had come from ill-informed people who wanted to look outside the force for a new commissioner.

“I would hate that there would be an inequality; that something would be balanced against a person because they’re internal,” he said. “I just think this would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. If there’s something to be done, give her the opportunity to change.

“She knows the job from the ground up. She’s where she is by merit, having risen through the ranks on an operational basis. “It would be a ground breaking step; the first female commissioner. If the organisation is going to change, it should change from within.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times