Ruling out 'insiders' in favour of a CEO-style Garda chief could be a big mistake
Hopefully the coming year will see the appointment of a new Garda commissioner to lead and manage the force into the next decade and beyond. The speculation by self-appointed and mostly unqualified police analysts will be intense, all espousing their views as to whether the new incumbent should be a so-called 'outsider', 'insider', 'civilian' or someone from another jurisdiction.
Like everyone else, members of Garda management were shocked and dumbfounded by the depth and severity of the criticism the force received in the wake of a series of crises. The repeated calls for accountability added to the problem. This has resulted in the authorities perceiving themselves - rightly or wrongly, and it is mostly wrong - as operating in a hostile environment. The natural tendency for an organisation that sees itself in such a situation is firstly to strike out with varying degrees of rationality, and then to adapt a bunker mentality. This is precisely what occurred. However, there is one solid reason for abandoning this mentality. It is a waste of effort.
On the basis of the current situation in An Garda Síochána in terms of performance, perhaps Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin should reconsider his retirement plans and contest the top job. With the number of so-called gangland criminals being taken out of circulation, the significant inroads in combating rural crime, the decrease in road deaths and recent huge drugs seizures, it is questionable if another leader will do any better.