Editorial Comment Autumn 2018

The appointment of a new Garda Commissioner was eagerly awaited by many onlookers in Ireland not least within the serving ranks of An Garda Siochana but also to those of us in retirement. We all know the force has experienced very difficult times over the past number of years with one controversy following hot on the heels of another. The appointment therefore of the person to take charge was always a hot topic from the moment the incumbent Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan declared that it was her intent to retire in September 2017. Media pundits had a field day with many predicting the winner. A common trend among the media speculators was that the person would have to be from outside the country; after all the culture within the guards had to be broken. As we all now know Drew Harris Deputy Chief Constable of PSNI has been chosen as the most suitable candidate to fill that role. So instead of deflecting attention away from the appointment of a new Garda Commissioner the spotlight has never more firmly been focused on the person selected. He has been swamped in controversy before he even gets off the blocks, and one wonders what the future holds for our new Commissioner. A major bone of contention with the guards is what is perceived to be a culture of secrecy and cover ups. Drew Harris’s appointment puts us back into that frame of mind. Because of his key role with MI5 and Special Branch intelligence it is alleged Drew Harris holds the key to more secrets than most.  MI5 operates on the island of Ireland, so he must hold sensitive information which is of interest to the Irish State, Will he share this information? . If we were concerned about a culture within An Garda Siochana then the new Garda Commissioner is coming from a background steeped in culture. We have seen attempts within the Courts to prevent his appointment, all unprecedented, and even before the man sits down at his desk in Garda Headquarters. The Garda Siochana Retired Members also have questions of the new Garda Commissioner. In particular his evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal in 2012. It is the belief that Judge Smithwick in delivering his report to Government took great stock of the evidence of Drew Harris, in introducing what has been termed the fourth man. As we know this man has never been named so in effect its every member of An Garda Siochana who was stationed in Dundalk, right throughout the period of review by the Smithwick Tribunal. The concerns of GSRMA are so great that they have penned the letter reproduced below for the new Garda Commissioner.

Mr. Drew Harris

Commissioner An Garda Síochána,

Garda Headquarters,

Phoenix Park,

Dublin 8.

A chara Coimisinéir Harris

The Garda Síochána Retired Members’ Association (GSRMA) wish to acknowledge your appointment as Garda Commissioner and wish you well in the future.

Our association represents almost six thousand retired members and widows. The majority of those members served in the border region and we are acutely aware of the stress and strains endured by our members and your former colleagues in the RUC/PSNI.

As an Association we are also aware of the very real concerns expressed by our colleagues particularly in Dundalk Station regarding testimony supplied by you in 2012 to the Smithwick Tribunal.

We look forward to working with you in the near future to ameliorate these concerns.

Mise le meas

Matt Givens

Uachtarán GSRMA