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New Garda Commissioner could be selected by next summer

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A permanent successor to former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan could be appointed in six months.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan today formally requested that the Policing Authority commence the process of recruiting a new permanent commissioner.

Candidates will be sought from abroad as well as in Ireland.

Ms O’Sullivan retired three months ago after her tenure was rocked by a series of controversies and was replaced on an acting basis by Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin.

In the immediate aftermath of Ms O’Sullivan’s departure there had been considerable uncertainty as to when a successor would be appointed.

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland asked the Government to delay the recruitment process until it reports next September.

However, at its meeting today the Cabinet decided to move ahead with the hunt for a new commissioner.

The competition will be an open one with no restrictions as to the nationality of the candidate.

It will also be the first time a non-police officer will be considered for the role. Policing experience, while desirable will not be an essential requirement.

It’s understood the salary for the post will be up to €250,000.

A Government spokesman said it was agreed at Cabinet that the salary for the post will need to be increased in order to attract the right candidate for the position.

“This is the first time that the Garda Commissioner will be selected by way of an international competition under the auspices of the independent Policing Authority,” said Mr Flanagan.

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“It marks a very significant change in the manner in which this important office will be filled and demonstrates the Government’s continuing commitment to deep reform across the justice sector.”

Mr Flanagan said the Government’s overriding concern was to ensure the best candidate is selected.

“The person who comes through the selection process, be they an internal or external candidate, will be required to implement a major strategic reform agenda to include improving governance and performance management, building managerial capacity and enhancing service delivery while continuing to ensure that the organisation has the capability to secure the State and keep its citizens safe,” he said.

“An open, international competition is the best way to ensure that the right person comes through.”

Mr Flanagan said it was anticipated the recruitment process would take in the region of six months.

The competition will be undertaken by the Public Appointments Service at the request of the Policing Authority. The Government will make the appointment on the nomination of the authority.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday announced the appointment of  Michael Collins, Senior Counsel, to conduct an independent review of the practices and procedures at the Department of Justice.

The review is in response to criticisms of the department in its furnishing of documentation relevant to the terms of the reference of the Disclosures Tribunal.

The tribunal, led by Judge Peter Charleton, is examining the alleged smear campaign against garda seargeant Maurice McCabe.

Separately, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan insisted that he is determined to reform the district courts.

He was responding to an RTÉ ‘Primetime Investigates’ report which revealed that just 58 per cent of those driving with excess alcohol were convicted following their court appearance.

“I take very seriously the outcome of the RTE programme last night and I will advise the House accordingly in the new year of the options available to me in terms of the review,’’ Mr Flanagan said.


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