Flanagan opens new Garda HQ in Dublin
The justice minister said he had no reservations about new commissioner Drew Harris.
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan has officially opened Kevin Street Garda Station in Dublin ahead of new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’s first day on the job
The South Central Headquarters has undergone refurbishment, including new infrastructure for gardai training and development and a prisoner detention facility.
The refurbishment is part of continuing investment by the Government in An Garda Siochana.
Kevin Street, one of the most historical stations in the country, has had a complete redesign.
Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin and Minister for Justice & Equality Charlie Flanagan in attendance today at the official opening of the new Kevin Street Garda Station. pic.twitter.com/3w4GPw4LOI— Garda Info (@gardainfo) August 30, 2018
Other investments include a target of a 21,000-strong workforce by 2021, and 342 million euro in new ICT equipment.
Speaking at the opening, Mr Flanagan congratulated Acting Garda Commissioner Donall O Cualain on his final days in the role and said he had no reservations about the new commissioner, who is due to start on September 3.
“I’m satisfied Drew Harris will be an excellent commissioner, he brings a wide range of expertise and experience.
“I note that he has been referred to as an outsider – I reject that. He is an experienced policeman, he spent all of his career on police issues.
“He is an Irishman, and he has worked closely with An Garda Siochana in his years with the PSNI.”
The appointment of Mr Harris caused controversy when a victim of the Troubles initiated court proceedings against the hiring of the former Police Service of Northern Ireland deputy chief constable.
Ciaran MacAirt, whose grandmother Kathleen Irvine was killed in the McGurk’s pub bombing, said Mr Harris could not be independent in the Garda role as he is bound by the UK’s Official Secrets Act in regard to past investigations into incidents during the Troubles.
“I am absolutely satisfied by the independence of the hiring process and the professionalism of the persons involved,” Mr Flanagan added.
“Drew Harris served with distinction in Northern Ireland, in very difficult circumstances, saw first hand the Troubles on the island of Ireland with the loss of his father.”
Pressed on whether Mr Harris has an Irish passport, Mr Flanagan reiterated: “He is a policeman, he is an Irishman, he is not an outsider, and I think he will be an excellent Garda Commissioner.”
Mr MacAirt’s application for a judicial review against Mr Harris was dismissed by a judge in the High Court.