Headhunter employed to find outside candidates for top garda job
A COMMERCIAL agency is being hired to head-hunt outside candidates for the post of Garda Commissioner.
The head-hunting exercise will be run alongside an open competition, organised by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).
The position is expected to be advertised next week after the paperwork has been completed by the PAS and the Department of Justice and a closing date for applications will be set for around September 26.
Candidates who are head-hunted by the agency will be assessed to determine if they should be added to a shortlist but cannot be guaranteed an interview.
And the move does not mean that an outsider is the preferred candidate, which was vacated last March by Martin Callinan after it was suggested to him - by a senior civil servant at the direction of Taoiseach Enda Kenny - that he would not survive a Cabinet meeting the next morning.
A senior PAS official said last night this was not the first time that the service had employed an external company to use its extensive network to target potential applicants, who might be deemed to be suitable candidates but were not aware of the vacancy.
He said this process would not interfere with the independent running of the open competition and it had operated well in the past.
The favourite internal candidate is Noirin O'Sullivan, pictured, who has been interim commissioner since Mr Callinan resigned, but it is likely that some of her senior management will also throw their hats into the ring.
The post is also being considered by senior officers from other police forces, while the extent of interest among top executives in the private sector has not yet been determined.
The idea of an open competition is not new and had been proposed in a 2007 report from an advisory group on garda management chaired by ex-Senator Maurice Hayes.
The 2007 report stated: "This does not in any way predicate the appointment of an external candidate but it does ensure that the successful candidate would have been tested against international standards in police leadership".
Meanwhile, a senior official from the Department of Justice briefed a meeting of top garda officers, from the rank of commissioner down to superintendents, at the Garda College in Templemore.
The official outlined the workings of a police authority, which is due to be established by the end of the year in parallel with the appointment of a new commissioner.
The meeting also reviewed the progress made by the force in coping with the issues that arose from the spate of controversies, which erupted at the start of the year and the proposals for change put forward by the Government.