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Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan retires

Monday, 11th September, 2017 11:39am

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan yesterday announced her shock retirement from An Garda Síochána with immediate effect. 

Ms O’Sullivan notified Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday afternoon.

The moves comes after several policing controversies. These included the falsification of garda breath tests and financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore. 

In a statement she said: “The support for me to continue in the role is evident. However, I devoted much of my summer break to considering if continuing would be the right thing to do. It has become clear, over the last year, that the core of my job is now about responding to an unending cycle of requests, questions, instructions and public hearings involving various agencies including the Public Accounts Committee, the Justice and Equality Committee, the Policing Authority, and various other inquiries, and dealing with inaccurate commentary surrounding all of these matters. 

“They are all part of a new – and necessary – system of public accountability. But when a Commissioner is trying – as I’ve been trying – to implement the deep cultural and structural reform that is necessary to modernise and reform an organisation of 16,000 people and rectify the failures and mistakes of the past, the difficulty is that the vast majority of her time goes, not to implementing the necessary reforms and meeting the obvious policing and security challenges, but to dealing with this unending cycle.”

The Commissioner expressed the hope that her successor would be given the space and necessary supports in which to do the job, build on the platform that has been developed over the last three years, and move forward the Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme, which it is hoped will see An Garda Síochána become a beacon of 21st century policing.

She also said that she was not leaving her role to take up another job. In early summer, international colleagues, she said, had encouraged her to apply for the top job in Europol. Because it would have been a prestigious appointment for an Irish citizen, she agreed to consider it, but did not proceed with the application.

“I may decide to take on some other interesting and exciting challenge down the line,” she said, but for now her intention is to retire and take some time with her family and adapt to the new phase of her life. 

Reaction 

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wished Ms O’Sullivan every success in whatever she does in the years ahead. He said that the Government will now consider how best to accelerate the crucial and essential reform programme in the months and years ahead.

The Cabinet will discuss how best to proceed at its regular meeting on Wednesday.

Justice Minister Charles Flanagan said that in the coming weeks he will consult with the chair of the Policing Authority about a process to identify and appoint a permanent Commissioner to An Garda Síochána.

He said: “I will brief the Government at the next Cabinet meeting. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Commissioner O’Sullivan and to acknowledge her public service to the State over the course of an accomplished 36 year career in a variety of roles in An Garda Síochána, which ranged from under-cover detective work in Dublin’s inner city in the 1980s to being appointed to the most senior position in the service in March 2014.”

He also said that since the establishment of An Garda Síochána, the role of Commissioner has been a hugely demanding one but “I want to acknowledge that, during Commissioner O’Sullivan’s tenure, she was faced with particularly significant difficulties, many of which had built up over several decades. Commissioner O’Sullivan showed enormous resilience, determination and integrity in addressing those challenges and, in particular, in instituting a radical reform programme to modernise our policing service with the aim of providing the people of Ireland with world-class policing,” he added.

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