Minister: Garda Commissioner is ‘incredible role model for women’

Regina Doherty strongly defends Noírín O’Sullivan at Kennedy school

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has been described as "an incredible role model for women in this county'' by Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty.

"I have confidence in her and, not just because of her long sterling record of service to the country and An Garda Síochána, but because she wants the job,'' she said.

She said Ms O’Sullivan had an incredible track record in her service to public life. “She is there a long time and she has the vision and the grit, which is needed,’’ she added.

The Minister was speaking during a political panel discussion at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Co Wexford, on Saturday.



When it was pointed out to the Minister that Ms O’Sullivan had recently sought a European post at Europol, Ms Doherty said there was nothing wrong in being ambitious.

She said Ms O’Sullivan’s ambition was to change a force in which most normal Irish people had lost some of their grá and confidence.

Ms Doherty was responding to questions from session chair broadcaster and journalist Sarah McInerney on whether she had confidence in Ms O'Sullivan following the breath test controversy and the commissioner's appearances before the Oireachtas justice committee.

Ms Doherty said the commissioner was under scrutiny all day, every day, not just from TDs, but the entire media and from half the force who probably did not want any change and might want a different leader.

Ms O’Sullivan, the Minister added, deserved the opportunity to put her mark on the force and change the management style. This could not be done overnight, she added.

The Minister was participating in a panel before a public audience in St Michael's Theatre with former Labour leader Joan Burton, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil defence spokeswoman Lisa Chambers.

Pension discrimination

Asked about discrimination in the State pension against women who stayed at home to mind children, the Minister said she would bring a memo to Cabinet on pension reform next month or in November. She said dealing with child poverty would be her priority in next month’s budget.

Ms Burton said Brexit would be in the background daily in the new Dáil term.

“It cannot be avoided,’’ she said. “It has to be factored into the budget with sufficient flexibility for adjustments to counteract developing damage to different sectors.”

Dismiss ‘new politics’

Ms McDonald dismissed "new politics'', adding the current arrangement between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael was born out of political necessity.

“And I think it was born not least because of the political necessity to see off any politically impertinent challengers to the political status quo, like, for instance, ourselves in Sinn Féin,’’ she added.

Being in the Dáil now, said Ms McDonald, was like participating in a slow bicycle race.

Ms Chambers defended Fianna Fáil’s support for the minority Government, arguing the party had decided on the strategy, having unsuccessfully campaigned during the election for a mandate to form a government itself.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times