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Ex-senior garda advised Taoiseach not to appoint an 'outsider' as commissioner

With the gardaí in crisis after the retirement of its two most senior officers over the phone tapping scandal, one former officer had some advice for Garret FitzGerald.

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A FORMER SENIOR garda wrote to the Taoiseach the day after the phone tapping broke and two of the State’s most senior gardaí announced their retirements to advice that Garret FitzGerald not appoint an “outsider” to lead the force.

The short, handwritten letter from Alfred ‘Alfie’ Flood, a former deputy garda commissioner, warned the Taoiseach that neither of the two previous so-called ‘outsiders’ were a success and outlined his credentials, describing himself as the “longest serving member” of 41-and-a-third years.

Just in case he had any doubts, Flood’s letter also advised FitzGerald that he could consult party colleague and former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave regarding his “credentials”.

He was indeed an experienced garda.

A profile in the History of the Garda Síochána Retired Members Asociation (GSMRA) notes that Alfred Ignatius Flood joined the force when he left college and at 19 was promoted to sergeant.

Flood became a chief superintendent in 1965 before being promoted to assistant commissioner and then deputy commissioner before retiring from the force in April 1972.

He later became president of the Garda Pensioners’ Association before he died in 1997.

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In his typed response, the Taoiseach wrote on 24 January that “with such long and distinguished service” he respected Flood’s views and promised to “certaintly keep this in mind” as well as bringing it to the attention of Justice Minister Michael Noonan.

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In the end it was Lawrence ‘Larry’ Wren, who had led the inquiry that would uncover the phone tapping scandal, who became acting commissioner and was later permanently installed as garda commissioner, before he retired in 1987.

See National Archives, Reference TK 2013/100/115

Phone tapping: Papers reveal garda commissioner’s belief that he had no choice but to retire

‘Ireland’s Watergate’: How the phone tapping scandal would led to Haughey’s downfall… eventually

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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