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"Frustrating" that Garda Commissioner didn't say if the Provisional IRA still exists

Nóirín O’Sullivan appeared before the Justice Committee today.

THE GARDA COMMISSIONER appeared before the Justice Committee this afternoon.

A lot of subjects came up, but – as the committee was asked to stick to issues related to the 2015 Policing Plan – her predecessor Martin Callinan did not.

O’Sullivan was questioned on everything from terrorism to gun ownership, and the IRA to Garda recruitment.

Independent TD Finian McGrath asked the Commissioner if she knew how many legally-held firearms have been used in crimes.

She said she didn’t have such figures to hand, but would revert back to him on this.

McGrath then held up a photo of a road sign damaged by bullet holes. He said it was sent to him by a member of the public who believes the sign was shot with a legally-held firearm.


Later on in the debate, independent Senator James Heffernan repeatedly asked O’Sullivan if she thinks the Provisional IRA still exists.

When the Commissioner told him the force continually works with the PSNI to investigate any incidents of criminality, Heffernan said it was “frustrating” she wouldn’t give him a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Committee Chair David Stanton stepped in at this point, telling Heffernan the committee was not in a position to discuss operational matters today.

He volunteered O’Sullivan to meet with the Senator at a later date to discuss the issue, to which she nodded.

Garda recruitment

Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins said “Garda headcount is under huge pressure”, noting that, as of 1 January, there were 12,799 gardaí, with up to 500 out sick on any given day, 230 on incentivised career break and 1,498 eligible to retire.

He said the 299 recruits currently training in Templemore is not enough.


O’Sullivan said it is her wish to keep the number of gardaí at or above 13,000, adding that Templemore could train 125 recruits a quarter “with ease”.

She noted that while no more rural Garda stations are slated for closure, none are due to be re-opened either.


O’Sullivan said there is “no immediate threat” to Ireland from international terrorist attacks but said she is “very mindful” of recent attacks such as the mass shooting in Tunisia last week.

She said the force works closely with its international counterparts in relation to terrorism.


The commissioner said the last few years have been “very challenging” for gardaí.

She noted that the new policing plan “focuses on how we are going to commence on our journey of reform, change, and continuous improvement of our structures, culture, technology, and service delivery”.

We are committed to protecting communities and individuals from the dangers and harm associated with crime, drugs, domestic related crime including burglaries, domestic violence and other forms of violence.

O’Sullivan said An Garda Síochána was working toward delivering “a world-class police service that sets the standard for others to emulate and be a source of pride for the people of this country”.

There were some lighter moments during the meeting, however. McGrath got a few laughs for this reference to last year’s ‘phone hacking’ controversy:

We still don’t know if Martin Callinan resigned, retired or was sacked…

Fancy being the gardaí’s second-in-command?

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