FORMER Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's resignation has sent shockwaves through both government and the senior ranks of the garda.
Several officers who spoke to the Herald said they did not believe the Commissioner would walk, despite the controversies.
"This is a thunderbolt to the force, nobody saw this coming," said a senior source.
But as gardai dealt with the hammer blow of losing their most senior officer, reaction grew to the news within government circles.
The government will now, for the first time, hold an open competition for the vacant position. In a statement, the government thanked Mr Callinan for his "long and dedicated service to the State."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he believed the decision to leave the force "must have been extremely difficult.
"Commissioner Callinan dealt with very serious issues about the safety of the State, and the safety of citizens, in dealing with members of subversive organisations and serious criminals. And I thank him for his service to the Irish State," he said.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter released a statement: "As commissioner and throughout his very distinguished service in the Force he has made an enormous contribution to fighting crime and I believe that this contribution will be seen as a legacy of which he can be very proud and for which the community he served are in his debt," he said.
However, Independent TDs Finian McGrath, John Halligan, Thomas Pringle, Richard Boyd Barrett and Luke Ming Flanagan all said it was time for him to go.
Whistleblower and former garda John Wilson said: "Martin Callinan has done this country some service throughout his long career.
"But his position had become untenable and his decision to resign was the correct one," he added.
NOIRIN O'SULLIVAN INTERVIEW: SEE PAGE 14