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Canadian and Scottish officers linked to top Garda post – Irish Times


Conor Lally

Irish Times 24/11/14

Canadian and Scottish officers linked to top Garda post

Race to become Garda Commissioner nears conclusion with final interviews this week.

The identity of the new Garda commissioner will be known in the next 10 days, with the final interviews for the post being held this week. Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, who has made the final shortlist of three, was due to be interviewed today.

She was one of three internal candidates to make the shortlist of six, with Assistant Commissioners Derek Byrne and Fintan Fanning. Mr Byrne is responsible for national support services across the force, including specialist units that fight serious and organised crime. He applied for the position of chief constable of the PSNI earlier this year and was among the last three in the competition, though the job went to internal candidate George Hamilton.

Mr Fanning is currently head of policing in the Garda’s eastern region.

PSNI candidate

Also on the shortlist of six was PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay. He is a former interim chief constable of the PSNI and began his career as a police officer in his native Scotland in 1982, moving to the North from Strathclyde Police in 2006.

The names of the other two candidates on the shortlist, which emerged after the initial interviews three weeks ago, have been more closely guarded. However, a number of Garda sources who spoke to The Irish Times said many across the force believed Ms O’Sullivan and Mr Finlay were now on a final list of three candidates.

Many of those sources believed a senior police officer in Canada was the third candidate still in contention.

Vacant post

The commissioner’s post has been vacant since Martin Callinan decided to retire in March at the height of the controversy about the cancellation of motorists’ penalty points and as it emerged calls to Garda stations were being recorded. His departure was controversial.

It came after Taoiseach Enda Kenny sent former Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell to his home to relay the Cabinet’s concerns about events unfolding at the time. Informed sources said while it was possible the new commissioner would be selected and unveiled this week, it was more likely the announcement would be made next week. This is the first time the job has been advertised externally.

Usually the names of candidates are presented by the minister for justice to Cabinet, with the minister’s recommendation effectively rubber stamped. Sources said they expected the final decision to be put before Cabinet tomorrow week and then announced.