| 9.5°C Dublin

Can O'Sullivan bring battered garda force into 21st century?

THE appointment of Noirin O'Sullivan as Garda Commissioner is welcome.

It is a momentous move in some regards, as O'Sullivan (below) is the first woman to lead the force in its 92-year history.

Her public profile is well established of course, as she has headed the organisation since the resignation of Martin Callinan earlier this year.

O'Sullivan has a proven track record as a police officer, with impeccable credentials and ability. By all accounts she enjoys the respect of members of the force.

In her role as interim commissioner she has also come though some tough tests, not least in dealing with the fallout from her predecessor's resignation.


In doing so she has showed herself as a steadying presence.

However, the new Commissioner is surely aware of the mammoth task that lies ahead: to restore the tarnished image on An Garda Siochana.

The force has been rocked to its foundations by recent scandals - principally those surrounding the systematic cancellation of the penalty points.

These have seriously undermined public confidence and trust. Such support is vital if the long-established principle of policing with the consent and support of the people is to successfully continue.

This priceless and irreplaceable relationship between the force and the public has taken a severe battering, however.

On top of this, the recent report of the Garda Inspectorate has painted a disturbing and shocking picture of a force suffering from major shortcomings.

It found that middle management and senior officers failed to provide leadership. It highlighted unprofessional practices in the recording of crimes.


Investigation practices and garda training were also heavily criticised, as was the obsolete PULSE computer system. In the wake of all this garda morale is understandably at a low point, of that's there's no doubt.

Commissioner O'Sullivan's main task will be to bring An Garda Siochana into the 21st century, as it appears the force is still stuck in the 20th.

There's no doubt that O'Sullivan's appointment is the right one. In view of her career to date and her baptism of fire as acting commissioner she is well placed to lead the force forward.

I have no doubt she will have the support of the public at large in carrying out the reforms so urgently needed. She will need it.