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Former 'mockie' has enjoyed a glittering 33-year garda career


Former Garda boss Martin Callinan

Former Garda boss Martin Callinan

Former Garda boss Martin Callinan

Newly appointed Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has enjoyed a hugely distinguished career in the force for more than three decades.

Ireland's first female head of police is married to Detective Superintendent Jim McGowan, who is based at Ballymun Garda Station.

Their son, Ciaran McGowan, is a press photographer who also became a member of the garda reserve last December and has been assigned to Clontarf Garda Station as a part-timer.

Ms O'Sullivan joined the gardai in 1981 and the Dublin native has served in Dublin, Tipperary and Galway.

During the 1980s, she was a key member of the famous 'mockies' (mock junkies) who were a team of undercover gardai who worked the streets of Dublin as the capital was plagued by a major heroin epidemic.

She was promoted to the rank of sergeant in January, 1992, and became an inspector just over five years later.

Ms O'Sullivan was appointed to superintendent in 2000 and served in the Garda College before moving on to become a detective superintendent in the Garda National Drugs Unit where she was operations commander.

Rising quickly through the ranks Ms O'Sullivan was promoted to chief superintendent in 2003 and served as a detective chief superintendent at the Technical Bureau. In 2007, she was named as the assistant commissioner in charge of the Western Region, before moving to Human Resource Management.


In June 2009, she was appointed to the role of assistant commissioner in Crime and Security.

Prior to taking over from Martin Callinan after his shock resignation, Ms O'Sullivan was the country's first female Deputy Commissioner where she was in charge of the operational side of the force.

Ms O' Sullivan is highly educated and has completed an FBI executive leadership programme and holds a first class honours in Advanced Management from the Michael Smurfit School of Business at UCD. She also has qualifications from Harvard University, the University of Limerick and Trinity College. A senior source last night spoke of the great respect her fellow garda officers have for her.

"Had she not been appointed there would have been a lot of dissent among a great number of members," he said.

"It's a great achievement for a woman to rise to the top of what is a very heavily male-dominated organisation," the source added.

Speaking last night Commissioner O' Sullivan said that her appointment is "a very proud moment for me and my family. It is a great honour to be appointed Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, which has such a proud tradition of protecting communities and the State".

Now at the pinnacle of her profession its up to Commissioner O'Sullivan to, as she put it, "transform An Garda Siochana into a 21st century service".