Wednesday 23 May 2018

Five questions being asked in the wake of shock departure

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Collins
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Collins Newsdesk Newsdesk

Following the surprise retirement of Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan on Sunday we take a look at some of the questions being asked following her announcement.

Why did she step down?

In her statement Ms O'Sullivan cited an "unending cycle" of inquiries and investigations which was getting in the way of her planned programme of reform in the gardaí.

The announcement came following months of mounting pressure for her to resign amid the recent garda scandals, including falsified alcohol breath tests, wrongful motoring convictions, financial irregularities at the Garda Training College, and the ill treatment of garda whistleblowers.

Who is head of the gardaí today?

Dónall O Cualáin who worked closely with Ms O'Sullivan has been installed as acting commissioner.

However, his tenure is expected to be short as the process to appoint a new commissioner is expected to only take a few months.

Mr O Cualáin was appointed deputy commissioner for Governance and Strategy in October 2015.

He will take the reins until a permanent replacement for Ms O'Sullivan is found.

Is the former commissioner entitled to a pension?

The Irish Independent is reporting that Ms O'Sullivan will retire with a lump sum of close to €300,000 and a pension of €90,000 a year - despite leaving the post halfway through her tenure.

Sources said her time as acting commissioner following the resignation of her predecessor Martin Callinan in 2014 would help her qualify for a full pension.

She is entitled to a full commissioner's pension after three years.

As Commissioner, Ms O'Sullivan was on a salary of €180,613 a year.

Now that she has decided to retire, she is entitled to 150pc of her final salary, capped at €300,000, as a lump sum, plus a basic pension of 50pc of her salary.

How has the Government reacted?

The Government has staunchly defended Ms O'Sullivan in the face of garda scandals including the garda breath test scandal, however it appears that her decision to step down at midnight caught many by suprise.

It is understood that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was notified only a few hours before and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was the informed by his offiicials.

In a statement Minister Flanagan paid tribute to Ms O'Sullivan's service to the state over he 36-year career. In an interview published in the Sunday Independent yesterday, before news of her departure emerged, the minister said the crises facing An Garda Siochana were "bigger than any one person".

What happens next?

A process will now get underway to nominate her replacement.

Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, will meet with the Policing Authority today to begin the process.

Following an open competition by the Public Appointments Service, the authority will nominate a candidate to the minister, who can accept or reject that person.

The issue will be discussed at Cabinet on Wednesday.

It is expected that the process will take a number of months.

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