Half of most senior Garda posts filled by women after appointment of PSNI officer

Paula Hilman officially leaves North’s force to take up Garda assistant commissioner role

Half of the most senior posts in An Garda Síochána are now filled by women following the appointment of a PSNI officer to the rank of assistant commissioner.

Paula Hilman has now officially left the PSNI, where she was a detective chief superintendent, to take up the role of Garda assistant commissioner .

There were 23 applications for the job, five of them women and Ms Hilman was the only candidate to apply from outside the Garda. Overall, the Garda is made up of 73 per cent men and 27 per cent women.

Ms Hilman joins three women already serving as assistant commissioners.


At present, there are eight assistant commissioners in the Garda and two deputy commissioner posts, all working under Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

Assistant Commissioner Orla McPartlin is in charge of community engagement and public safety, Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney is in charge of the Eastern Region while Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon is in charge of the Southern Region.

Policing Authority chairman Bob Collins said he was hopeful the appointment of Ms Hilman and that of Ms Cagney last month would encourage more women to apply for senior Garda jobs.

Gender equality

There are two deputy commissioner posts; one filled by John Twomey while the other post is vacant at present. However, Ms McMahon is currently interim deputy commissioner as well as assistant commissioner of the Southern Region.

It is the first time such gender equality has been reached at the top of the Garda and is a record number of women in those ranks.

A recruitment competition to fill the vacancy at deputy commissioner level concluded late last year with the Policing Authority deciding not to select a successful candidate from the applicants.

Ms McMahon, who was not one of the candidates, was subsequently appointed by Mr Harris to fill the deputy commissioner post on an interim basis pending another recruitment competition to fill it permanently.


Ms Hilman is one of two officers joining the Garda from the PSNI. Chief Inspector Stephen McCauley, who is due to retire from the PSNI in coming days, has been appointed to the rank of superintendent in the Garda.

Both appointments were confirmed by the Policing Authority on Thursday and they will take up their posts the week after next.

Ms Hilman’s career in policing spans 34 years and most recently she has been the head of the PSNI’s public protection branch, which investigates child abuse, domestic abuse and serious sexual crime.

She is also an experienced public order commander and strategic firearms commander as well as managing gang feuds and previously led the PSNI’s hate crime branch.

Mr McCauley began his policing career 30 years ago and has held posts in neighbourhood policing, public order, planning and command and roads policing.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times