The Government has been warned it would be making a “serious mistake” if it appointed a Garda commissioner without having clarity as to what the job would entail.
The unexpected advice came from the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland – a body set up to examine the future of An Garda Síochana – in a letter to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.
The move by commission chairwoman Kathleen O’Toole puts considerable pressure on the Government and was last night being interpreted within the GardaSíochána as an aggressive step that suggested the commission has major reforms in mind for every aspect of the force.
If the Government acts on the advice, it would mean the Garda is very unlikely to have a new commissioner until early 2019, meaning Dónall Ó Cualáin, who succeeded Nóirín O’Sullivan on an interim basis, could remain as head of the force for at least 18 more months.
The letter says it was very unlikely a “credible candidate” would come forward and apply for the role of commissioner when so much uncertainty hangs over the future of the Garda and the commissioner’s role.
It says that based on its work to date, it has formed the view the Garda does not currently have the capacity to carry out the reforms needed.
The letter said that so much change was required that it would not be possible to even draw up a specification for the role of commissioner before her group’s recommendations were published next September.
The Policing Authority was set to begin the process of hiring a new Garda commissioner immediately but as it is a relatively new body and has never hired a commissioner before, it must first formulate how the process will take place.