Monday 24 November 2014

PROFILE: Martin Callinan

Published 26/03/2014 | 02:30

Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minister Alan Shatter

DURING his four-year tenure as garda commissioner, Martin Callinan oversaw major changes in the Garda force as well as a substantial drop in the crime figures.

He was never far from the headlines or from controversy because of the diversity of the challenges he faced in the job.

As a result of changes to the commissioner's job description, he was handed the nettle of station closures, which had been kicked to touch by successive justice ministers in the past.

But he grasped the nettle and, despite significant opposition within the organisation and from communities affected by the closures, he shut down over 100 stations.

He argued that this had to be done to ensure that the force could successfully meet the demands placed upon it with reduced resources.

In tandem with the closures, his officers negotiated the first overhaul of work rosters in the force in 40 years and this resulted in more gardai being sent out onto the streets at peak hours.

INITIATIVES

The redistribution of working hours within the force helped to some extent to offset the ban on recruitment and the reduction in the strength of the force from 14,500 to the existing 13,010.

He also pushed for more intelligence-led operations to substitute for the falling manpower available to tackle crime and organised specific initiatives along with Noirin O'Sullivan, his deputy, who is now taking over the top post, at least on an interim basis.

One of the major factors that had been pushing up the overall crime rate was the increasing level of burglaries nationwide, partly due to travelling gangs targeting vulnerable householders in rural areas. He set up Operation Fiacla and its regional offshoots and this initiative has resulted in over 7,000 arrests and in excess of 4,000 criminal charges.

As a result of Fiacla, the burglary total has fallen by over 10pc in the past year.

As a younger officer, he was a prominent member of the Garda's Tango squad, which was set up to combat the activities of Martin Cahill, who was known as the general.

Mr Callinan also led several other prominent inquiries including the investigation into Hepatitis C.

Irish Independent

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