Increasing salary suggests attempt to interest strong international candidates

The Government believes the remuneration for the new Garda commissioner will need to be increased to about €300,000 to attract strong international candidates.

Government sources say an increase from the current salary of €180,000 is on the table to attract external applicants, such as senior civil servants or international candidates.

Meanwhile, Independent Ministers and leading Opposition TDs have called for an external appointee to drive reform of An Garda Síochána.

However, there is unease among some in Government about an international candidate, because of concerns that a foreign national could be in charge of national security, with a senior civil servant favoured instead.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan yesterday said the appointment of a new commissioner provides an opportunity to “broaden” the search for a successor to Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Flanagan said the issue of pay would be examined if requested by the Policing Authority, which will handle the appointment. The role currently attracts a salary of €180,613, in comparison with the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who is paid €219,521.

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, Cressida Dick. She commands 32,000 police officers compared with 13,000 Gardaí.

The Policing Authority will choose the requirements for the position, such as knowledge, ability and suitability. It will select a candidate and make a recommendation to the Government, which can only be refused in exceptional circumstances.

If the Government does refuse the recommendation, it will have to provide the reasons for its refusal and request the authority to nominate another person.


Among the senior ranks of the Civil Service, one of those seen as a possible candidate is Robert Watt, the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. He is understood to be coming to the end of his term and has overseen public sector reform since his appointment in 2011.

It has also emerged that Ms O’Sullivan or someone on her behalf, and in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform were working last week to clarify her severance package and pension before her surprise retirement.

She will be entitled to a gratuity payment of almost €290,000 and an annual pension of €90,000.

Meanwhile, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten said he is “personally” in favour of an external candidate, but added: “I have full confidence in Policing Authority to select the right person, be it an internal or external candidate.”

His view was supported by Finian McGrath, the Independent Alliance super junior minister.