Two contenders in race to head gardai
TWO men are the front-runners in the race to succeed Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, who has confirmed that he will retire at the end of the year.
Several candidates are in the running to be appointed by the Government to take charge of the 14,000-strong force. But it is generally accepted that the two early favourites are the current deputy commissioners, Martin Callinan and Nacie Rice.
Mr Murphy had initially been due to step down in November of last year but was granted a 13-month extension by the Government to lead the force at a time of extensive modernisation.
He has had a distinguished career and provided strong leadership to the force since his appointment as commissioner in November 2007.
Mr Murphy confirmed his retirement at the Garda College in Templemore yesterday at the end of a two-day conference attended by all of his senior officers, from the rank of chief superintendent upwards.
After rising through the ranks to become head of the national fraud bureau, he was appointed the first chief of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), when it was established in 1996 in the wake of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.
A Corkman, Mr Murphy's performance in establishing the CAB as a role model for police forces internationally resulted in his promotion to assistant commissioner in 1999. Four years later, he was appointed deputy commissioner in charge of garda operations.
While in that post, he directed targeted drives against organised crime gangs, drug trafficking and subversive groups, while also managing the highly successful Operation Anvil, the nationwide crackdown on crime.
He was hailed by senior colleagues for presenting a "strong and reassuring" profile to the public. Operationally, he consistently adopted a hard line with organised crime and drug traffickers, ordering specialist units to adopt an "in your face" approach to tackling the gangsters.
Serious crime has dropped during his tenure, as a result of a crackdown on criminal gangs.
He also focused on promoting the use of community policing and produced a higher visibility for his members on the streets.