O’Sullivan stresses reform as she secures Garda job

Mick Wallace and Clare Daly criticise move, as whistleblower calls it missed opportunity

New Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park on Tuesday. She said she was determined to lead a “hurting” force out of “a huge roller-coaster of uncertainty”. Photograph: Alan Betson

New Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park on Tuesday. She said she was determined to lead a “hurting” force out of “a huge roller-coaster of uncertainty”. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Newly appointed Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said criticisms levelled at the force during the recent “unprecedented time” would act as a road map for reform under her stewardship.

There was widespread relief across the Garda following the announcement that she had emerged as the winner from the first international open competition to fill the most senior policing post in the State.

Senior sources said the appointment of any of the international candidates would have been an embarrassment for the Garda. There were also doubts as to whether a candidate coming from an overseas police force would settle into the job fast enough during what remains a difficult period for policing in the Republic.

Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, both of whom were central to the raising of concerns around the cancellation by gardaí of motorists’ penalty points, said the appointment suggested the Government had no interest in Garda reform, despite promises to the contrary.

“The old boys’ club is alive and well,” said Ms Daly. “We can look forward to the blue wall of silence continuing.”

Former garda turned penalty points whistleblower John Wilson called the appointment of an insider a missed opportunity to change a “poisonous and hateful culture” within the force.

However the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) and the Garda Representative Association (GRA) both welcomed the appointment. AGSI general secretary John Redmond said the association was “delighted”, while GRA general secretary PJ Stone said “the cream always rises to the top”.

Ms O’Sullivan said she was determined to lead a “hurting” Garda force out of “a huge roller-coaster of uncertainty”.

She said the recent report by the Garda Inspectorate, which highlighted serious concerns around the Garda’s treatment of witnesses and the investigation of serious offences, would aid a reform programme she had already begun.

She would seek to place victims of crime at the centre of the Garda culture.

Cabinet ratified her appointment after the Public Appointments Service selected her from a 40-strong international field of candidates. One of those believed to have been on the short list was PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Finlay.