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Garda Commissioner admits 'listening hasn't always been a priority'

Nóirín O’Sullivan has told a justice reform conference: “I can’t guarantee perfection on my watch, but I can give it a good try.”

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD and event chair Tom Arnold at the Consultation Seminar on Justice Reform today.
Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD and event chair Tom Arnold at the Consultation Seminar on Justice Reform today.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

GARDA COMMISSIONER NÓIRÍN O’Sullivan has said that the force will listen “undefensively” and “positively” to dissenting voices from now on.

O’Sullivan said that in the past an Garda Síochána “rejected well-meant advice” too often, adding: “Listening hasn’t always been a priority”.

“At times, if we’d concentrated more on the message and less on the messenger, we’d have walked into fewer walls.”

The acting commissioner’s predecessor Martin Callinan was criticised for calling the actions of Garda whistleblowers Maurice McCabe and John Wilson “disgusting”.

The pair had made allegations of widespread corruption in the termination of penalty points.

O’Sullivan was speaking at the Consultation Seminar on Justice Reform at Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park today.

I can’t guarantee perfection on my watch. But I can give it a good try, and I will give it a good try.

She said that the force is “a unique organisation, because our key stakeholder is every citizen”.

We’re responsible to every man, woman and child in this country.

Adapting to change

The commissioner stated that an Garda Síochána “has proved time and again that it can adapt and change in response to the ever-evolving criminal landscape”.

O’Sullivan said that the new independent police authority would be a “critical friend” of the force in the future, adding that both bodies would need to work with in tandem with GSOC and the Garda Inspectorate to “enhance public confidence” in policing.

There is so much that is great about this marvellous, diverse, disciplined national organisation.

She added that the force is full of  ”committed, highly-skilled professionals right around this country who every day demonstrate their passion for the job and prove their courage under pressure”.

Also speaking at Farmleigh, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that the process of appointing a new Garda Commissioner will begin next month. The position will be advertised internationally.

Related: ‘I told her to ring Maurice McCabe’: John Wilson shook hands with the Garda Commissioner today

Read: Whistleblower claims he was targeted after arresting garda for drunk driving

Related: Callinan: Whistleblowers’ penalty points allegations are ‘quite disgusting’

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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