Politically toxic role pays less than senior jobs in other jurisdictions

Solution :  Larger Salary and person selected from outside the fold.  Magic.!!!

An outsider might be best- placed to replace Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda commissioner, Northern Ireland’s former police ombudsman has said.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who was ombudsman from 1999-2007, said a candidate from outside the force would have a “better opportunity in doing the job”, given the scale of the problems in the Garda.

However, she said whoever gets the job should be appointed on merit.

She identified raising morale in the force as a priority, along with ensuring that “every single member of An Garda Síochána understands that the law applies to them and that integrity is not negotiable”.

Baroness O’Loan told RTÉ Radio an outsider would not come with the “historic baggage of what had gone before”.The candidate would need vision and determination but also someone with a “fairly thick skin who can go ahead and do what has to be done”.

 The successful candidate would have sound judgment, the ability to build trust and have a proven track record as a senior manager in a large and complex organisation.

A person with knowledge of An Garda Síochána and the wide range of responsibilities it has under its remit would be successful for the position, which carried a salary of €180,613.

Sources familiar with the competition said Nóirín O’Sullivan was the outstanding candidate.

The interview panel was surprised by the calibre of candidates that applied.

Few people from outside the force applied and even fewer were from outside Ireland. There was disappointment that the international competition had not attracted more interest from foreign candidates and the salary was seen as having undermined the process.

Crucially, it was the requirement to have an in-depth knowledge of An Garda Síochána that ensured O’Sullivan was one of few eligible. 

Within hours of her appointment being confirmed, politicians began to question her suitability for the position. Having served as deputy commissioner to Martin Callinan, she was presumed to be linked with the mistakes of the past and toxic to many.

O’Sullivan endured relentless criticism throughout the three years she served as commissioner. While some was warranted, a significant portion was not.

Many in Leinster House and Government Buildings had already decided her fate and knew it was simply a matter of timing.

Now the Government is left in a bind. Her departure resolves significant political problems. But it raises a series of policy difficulties too.

The role of commissioner is now one of the most scrutinised positions in the country. It also has become one of the most politically toxic.

Some politicians believe it is time to seek an outsider for the role.

It carries the weight of an expectant public, the scrutiny of the Oireachtas and a shattered force awaiting the successful candidate.

The Policing Authority will run the selection process independently of Government. It will set out the criteria, interview the candidates and choose the next commissioner. The Government can reject the authority’s nomination but only in extreme circumstances.

The issue of pay will be a significant stumbling block in finding a successor, as the commissioner’s salary compares unfavourably with those in other jurisdictions.

The Government believes the remuneration for the new Garda commissioner will need to be set at about €300,000 if strong international candidates were to apply for the post.

If the package went to €300,000 it would put the Garda commissioner’s post on a par with the remuneration of the chief constable of the London Metropolitan Police, currently Cressida Dick.

However, while the senior officer in the London force is paid a salary the equivalent of €300,000, she commands 32,000 police officers compared to 13,000 Garda members.

 

The chief constable position in the London Met is the best- paid policing post in Great Britain.

The chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has a salary of €219,521, a housing allowance of €19,815, a car allowance of €9,791, a healthcare allowance of €660 and a broadband allowance of €396.

The head of the police force in Scotland is paid €236,123 and the chief constable for the Greater Manchester Police has a salary of €212,550 and is eligible for additional benefits worth €15,418 every year.

However, the chief constables of some other British police forces are paid less than half that of Ms Dick.

While increasing the salary of Garda commissioner would create much public debate, the commissioner’s salary was much higher before the economic crash. In 2008, the salary was €233,000.

Informed sources said while the detail of any enhanced salary was not yet agreed between Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and the Policing Authority, the package would likely include a much higher basic salary as well as relocation and living expenses.

 

And the monetary value of any pension contributions a commissioner was entitled to would also be rolled into the salary.

In the London Met, the top four ranks are paid more than the Garda commissioner’s salary. And sources believed the challenge faced by another becoming commissioner, coupled with the need to reform and also move to a new country, meant a much more generous salary than at present was required to attract to quality candidates.

The search to replace Ms O’Sullivan will be conducted by the Policing Authority.

And while applications will be sought from those not already members of the Garda – at home and abroad – there is also expected to be a lot of interest among senior Garda members.

Many within political and security circles believe an external commissioner is now required to address the problems within An Garda Síochána and lead the reforms the force requires.

However, there is no precedent for a person from outside Ireland having control of our national security. It also reinforces the question as to whether one agency should have responsibility for policing and security.

Ultimately, the Policing Authority may have a difficult job finding someone who is either suitable for the role or willing to accept the challenge.

 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Designed By