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Colette Fitzpatrick: Noirin, a real force to be reckoned with

REMEMBER ‘ban gardai’? Female gardai defined by heir sex. Thankfully, it's now inappropriate to refer to a female garda as a ban garda. She is a garda, the same as her male colleagues and not distinguishable by her gender

When Noirin O'Sullivan joined the force in 1981 she was called a ban garda, had to wear a skirt and probably would have thought you were deranged if you suggested that one day she could hold the second highest rank in the force -- Deputy Commissioner.

But this officer is so talented that many are now tipping her to become the first female Garda Commissioner.

It's quite an achievement in a traditionally conservative and male-dominated force. But Noirin O'Sullivan is no ban garda. She must be as tough as nails. Her CV shows she was a Detective Superintendent in the Drugs Unit and played a key role in a garda team, "the Mockies", tackling drug-dealing gangs on the streets.

She's academic too. Currently completing the national executive institute programme at the FBI Academy.

There have been no major studies conducted in this country but in the UK, for example, sexism was found to be 'endemic' and 'institutional' in the police force. If Noirin O'Sullivan ever encountered any sexism in the gardai, she certainly never let it stop her progression up the career ladder.

The wives of senior gardai have traditionally supported their husband's careers by putting up with long working hours, moving home several times, ironing shirts and polishing Sam Browns.

How will Noirin O'Sullivan manage without a wife? You'll find she'll manage just fine. Married or not, partner or not, Noirin's clearly as smart as they come and will make it work for her and more importantly the State she is tasked with policing.

Noirin O'Sullivan we salute you.

May the force be with you.

I've brushed off my best bitchy face and sharpened my nails for the Style Awards

MY dress has been sleeping with one eye open. It was originally pink, from Fran and Jane boutique and spot on for the annual Best In Show awards, -- sorry, the VIP Style Awards -- tonight.

But a little bird told me that one of the country's top models was wearing a pink number also from Fran and Jane.

Cue uncontrolled panic.

Gazelle

It's one thing turning up in a dress that someone else is wearing. It's another kettle of fish when the other attendee has legs like a gazelle, glossy skin and doesn't have to suck in each time she gets up from the table.

Plan Avoid Public Humiliation swung into action with a last-minute dash to Dundrum Shopping Centre.

It's red, it fits and they swore to me a model hadn't been spotted sashaying in the changing rooms for weeks.

Who am I wearing? Not 'what'. The dress will be teamed with my best bitchy face. Each compliment must be soaked in cattiness and deep fried in backbiting.

Camouflage

"You look great. Black is sooooooo slimming."

"It's great that Karen Millen does up to a size 16 now isn't it?"

"Is Helena Bonham Carter your personal fashion icon?"

"The dress really suits your curves." Curvy is the PC word for fat.

What she's actually saying is, "That's about the best you'll look, given you're trying to camouflage bingo wings, a flabby tummy and a bust that resembles rocks in socks after having three children."

Try that maliciousness for size. If you can fit in it, that is.

The fashionocracy is all about wholesale one-downmanship and the VIP Style Awards are sponsored each year by counterfeit niceness.

It's anthropological for so- called celebrities.

Everyone there wants to be the lead in a blockbusting romcom. In reality, they're an extra in a dreary soap.

Etiquette dictates that more is more when it comes to the Style Awards. Toe cleavage is in. Car to bar shoes are a perennial favourite to fall over in. Bulletproof underwear is out. A smash and grab of your accessories box won't do. Let no tacky earrings get left behind.

Flimsy

Remember, fortune favours the brave and if you don't look stylish, well you might as well try to get column inches for looking like a version of Donatella Versace who has let herself go. File this fashionista under 'Stunt Dressing'.

Nil by mouth all week will mean our tummies are flatter, we're just feeling a little faint, is all. A diet tax on the Shelbourne would clear our debts but we're too weak to write a cheque. Other traditions include getting plastered by 10pm.

Well, if the only lining you have is the flimsy material under your dress, your odds on for a scene.

Don't try to grab someone else's goody bags -- stealing is about as stylish as ruffled red shirts.

Yes, Daithi, if you win Best Dressed Man again, I'll pull out my fake hair extensions.

No models were hurt in the writing of this column. I can't truthfully state, though, that they weren't bitched about.