O’Sullivan’s sudden retirement takes Government and Garda by surprise

Garda Siochana Retired Members’ Association wish Nóirín O’Sullivan well in her retirement.  This was a decision that I’m sure Nóirín though long and hard about. Already we see many media comments that she has resigned.  Please get it right this lady has retired, not resigned. Nóirín had full service and was entitled to announce her retirement as she has. The many pundits are now busy at work selecting her replacement from “outside ” the fold.  Lets hope she is allowed to enjoy her retirement, I suspect she will not.

Ms O’Sullivan retired from the force without serving out a notice period after a near three-year commissionership dogged by controversies.

Her announcement came as a surprise even to those she worked closely with. Her term as the first female commissioner came to an end at midnight.

Deputy commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, who is in charge of governance and strategy, has taken over as acting commissioner.

In a statement, Ms O’Sullivan said she believed there was support for her to continue in her role but it had become clear to her “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” rather than implementing necessary reforms “and meeting the obvious policing and security challenges”.

Allegations that she smeared whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe are being investigated by the Charleton tribunal.

But it was more recent controversies concerning inflated Garda breath test data, the wrongful conviction of motorists and especially her handling of the financial governance problems at the Garda College, Templemore, that damaged her most.

Ms O’Sullivan took over as acting commissioner in March 2014 after Martin Callinan also stepped down with no notice and amid controversy. She was appointed to the role proper six months later. In total she spent 36 years in the Garda.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar thanked the outgoing commissioner for “her many years of dedicated service to the State”.

He said he agreed that her decision was made in the best interests of the Garda, “ensuring that it can focus on the extensive programme of reform that is now under way.”

However, he said that the Government would now seek to “accelerate the crucial and essential reform programme” in the force.

Just last week, he said the commissioner retained the Government’s confidence.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he would discuss with his Cabinet colleagues the next steps for the Garda, including the process for selecting a new commissioner.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said it was now time for an outsider to be appointed to lead the Garda. Ms O’Sullivan was unable to adequately reform the force as she was a product of its culture, he said, and the next commissioner should come “from outside the current ranks”.

The recently established Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland will now likely be asked to examine breaking up the force into two agencies, one looking after national security, the other traditional policing duties such as tackling crime, road traffic enforcement and other such duties.

Such a move would mean foreign candidates could be hired for senior Garda posts without the need to open State security practices and secrets to foreign nationals. At present there are only two ways into the force; by joining as a recruit or from the PSNI.

Government sources believe the remuneration package for the post needs to be increased from about €180,000 a year plus allowances, and that State security should be taken out of the Garda organisation so recruitment could be opened internationally across the many ranks of the force.

The Policing Authority, which became operational after Ms O’Sullivan secured the commissioner’s post, will now effectively recruit her successor.

Ms O’Sullivan will be entitled to a gratuity payment of close to €300,000 and an annual pension of almost €100,000.

One Response to O’Sullivan’s sudden retirement takes Government and Garda by surprise

  1. noel September 12, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    I have read your piece re Noreen O’Sullivan’s retirement. You are correct in stating that she did not resign but retired. It is important to emphasise that point. Of course the pundits are busy selecting her replacement and it is very clear that they do not want a serving member to be appointed as the new Garda Commissioner. I suspect that they consider themselves experts in how to lead a Police Force. It is my opinion that it is not possible for a replacement from “outside” the fold to take on this role. I fail to understand how the next Commissioner should come from “outside the current ranks” as stated by Brendan Howlin. I note that he has not given any reasons why some one, from a foreign Police Force would be more successful than one of our own. Does he consider himself an expert in Police matters – just hopping on the band wagon I guess. I suggest that he should get off the radar now. The new Commissioner should be selected from within the force who have the knowledge and experience gained over many years and understand how the Irish nation operates. He or she would also be very familiar with the culture and could take a stand in improving and changing same, which seems to be at the nub of this whole debacle. There are many fine Officers in An Garda Siochana and I do hope that our Government will seriously consider one of them to replace Noreen who I thought performed very well indeed under trying circumstances and did not hesitate to put Politicians like Mick Wallace in his place.

    I disagree with your statement that you suspect that Noreen O’Sullivan will not enjoy her retirement because of the involvement of busy body pundits. Let me inform you, General Secretary of our esteemed Retired Members Association, that our Noreen will have no problem in dealing with those “hound dogs”. In conclusion, I do wish her many fruitful and happy years in retirement and perhaps she will be joining our Association when the dust settles.
    Noel Hynes.

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