PSNI chief ‘delighted’ to see deputy become Garda Commissioner

The head of Northern Ireland’s police force said he is “delighted” his deputy Drew Harris has been appointed the new Garda Commissioner.

Chief Constable George Hamilton was among many senior officials to welcome the appointment which was announced today by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.

The Commissioner role became vacant after Noirin O’Sullivan resigned in September last year.

Drew Harris will serve for five years as Garda Commissioner (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Harris, the PSNI’s Deputy Chief Constable, who was in charge of its intelligence branch, was shortlisted with five other candidates for the top Garda role.

He will become the first “outsider” to fill the role as Garda Commissioner and will now be responsible for the general direction of An Garda Siochana.

He will receive a salary of €250,000 after it was increased from €180,000 in order to attract interest in the position.

Mr Harris’s father, Alwyn was killed in an IRA bomb in 1989.

His appointment comes following an international selection process run by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Policing Authority.

Mr Harris, who has 34 years policing experience including 12 years in senior roles, was appointed to the rank of PSNI Assistant Chief Constable responsible for Crime Operations in 2006 and has served as Deputy Chief Constable since 2014.

He has managed serious crime investigations, was responsible for all intelligence gathering, operations and analytical support for the PSNI and worked closely with the Gardaí.

Aged in his early 50s, the father-of-four has a degree in politics and economics and a masters in criminology.

Speaking about the appointment, Mr Hamilton said: “While there is no doubt that the PSNI will be a poorer place without his contribution, he will remain a colleague when he takes over the leadership of An Garda Siochana.

“This appointment can only serve to build on what is already a close working relationship between the PSNI and An Garda Siochana.

He (Drew Harris) is a man of unfathomable strength, humility and grace and I have been privileged to have him serve as my Deputy Chief Constable for almost four years

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

“The mutual desire of both organisations to keep people safe will support us in overcoming the many challenges we jointly face, including Brexit.

“He is a man of unfathomable strength, humility and grace and I have been privileged to have him serve as my Deputy Chief Constable for almost four years.”

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said: “I want to offer my congratulations to Drew Harris on his appointment.

“This is a critically important post and I am delighted that An Garda Siochana will be able to draw on Drew’s vast policing experience which is as broad as it is deep.

“I would also like to place on record the UK Government’s gratitude for his personal and professional contribution to public service and policing, most recently as Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

New recruits on parade during the Garda graduation ceremony at Templemore in Co Tipperary (Niall Carson/PA)

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland, also welcomed the historic appointment.

PFNI Chair, Mark Lindsay, said: “Drew Harris is an outstanding police officer and an individual who has unrivalled experience at the very highest levels.

“His grasp of the wide range of issues affecting policing in both jurisdictions means that Mr Harris comes well prepared for the challenges ahead.

“Brexit is already on the policing agenda in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the perspective he will bring to the dialogue will be invaluable.”

Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice Permanent Secretary Nick Perry said: “Mr Harris takes with him the gratitude of all his colleagues in the Department of Justice.

“His dedication, professionalism, and significant contribution to policing in Northern Ireland is exemplary.

“I offer him best wishes for the future, confident in the knowledge that his experience and sound judgment will be of enormous benefit in his new role.”

 

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