Thursday 22 February 2018

Two-thirds want next garda chief from outside force

Acting garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins
Acting garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins

Fionnan Sheahan and Tom Brady

SUPPORT for the next Garda Commissioner coming from outside the force is extremely strong, an Irish Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll reveals.

In the wake of a series of garda scandals, the poll finds nearly two-thirds of people believe the new garda chief should be appointed externally.

The finding comes ahead of the first cabinet discussion on the report into the alleged bugging of the Garda Ombudsman.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny met Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald last night to discuss the report into the alleged bugging of the Garda Ombudsman's office.


The Cabinet is due to be briefed on the highly anticipated Cooke report at its meeting today.

Retired High Court Judge John Cooke was tasked with examining allegations that the offices of the GSOC on Abbey Street in Dublin were subject to "unlawful surveillance".

The allegations, which first emerged in February, sent shockwaves through justice and political circles.

The results of the poll are an indication of the enormous damage done to the reputation of the Garda Siochana by the series of scandals which resulted in the resignation of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The poll finds 64pc believe the next Garda Commissioner should come from outside the force.

Backing for the Commissioner to come from the existing garda force emerges from 27pc of respondents, with 5pc saying it was dependent and 5pc don't know. The appetite for an outside appointment is particularly strong within the farming community, 72pc; 55-64 year olds, 70pc; Labour supporters, 70pc, and Sinn Fein supporters, 68pc.

Support for the existing force supplying the Commissioner is strongest among Fine Gael supporters, 33pc; Fianna Fail supporters, 32pc; higher income earners, 31pc; and 18-24 year olds 33pc.

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan remains the favourite to become the new head of the force.

The Garda Commissioner's post is due to be advertised at the end of July.

The appointment will be an open competition with candidates from inside the Garda Siochana and outside expected to apply.

It is anticipated that senior officers from British police forces will apply. Garda Siochana Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne – one of the most experienced crime investigators in the gardai and who currently holds a key post in charge of the national support services – was on the shortlist.

Also on the shortlist is PSNI assistant chief George Hamilton, who ultimately got the PSNI job, and a senior London Metropolitan police officer, Cressida Dick.

Irish Independent

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