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Garda opens chance for more PSNI to join management team

Ireland?s Garda could be about to add senior officers from across the border to its top team.
Published - 29/10/2020 By - Chris Smith

The Garda Síochána has begun a search for two Deputy Commissioners to support Commissioner Drew Harris who left the Police Service of Northern Ireland two years ago in an unprecedented move to begin leading Ireland’s officers.

Both posts come with a €172,955 salary. One is currently vacant and a second will become vacant on 31 December 2020.

The posts are open to anyone of “an appropriate calibre with senior policing experience”.

“The Deputy Commissioner roles present a great opportunity to support the Garda Commissioner in leading and shaping the national policing and security service to meet the internal and external challenges of the 21st century,” said the recruiting statement.

Commissioner Harris has opened up the possibility of more officers crossing the border to join his top team. Mr Harris had 34 years policing experience with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) before joining An Garda Síochána. In his current role as Commissioner of An Garda Síochána he has responsibility for both Policing and State Security for Ireland.

The responsibilities for the two deputies are familiar to any senior leader in UK policing, but particularly to those in the top tier of the PSNI.

Alongside tackling Cross border issues generated by Brexit and  enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, key issues include ensuring the force is able to support the 700 new Garda recruits set to join in 2020.

There is a commitment from the Irish government to have 21,000 officers operating by 2022.

An Garda Síochána is comprised of approximately 18,000 personnel which includes over 14,000 sworn Garda members, approximately 500 Reserve Garda members and over 3,000 Garda Staff working in administration and support roles.

There are also challenges to resolve, not least single-person patrols in rural areas. This issue rose up the again after Det Garda Colm Horkan was shot dead in Castlerea, Co Roscommon in June. The force had previously committed to look at the issue.

Another internal issue is how to meet the aim of creating Armed Support Units to replace armed detectives as the primary firearms response. The plan is to have 375 ASU officers in 13 centres across the country.

Like the UK, the Garda has warned that a rising threat is now coming from far right groups.

One immediate issue will be funding negotiations. The Garda Representative Association has said it wants to see “more boots on the ground and more tyres on the tarmac” and sees the recent extra cash to deal with the COVID-19 crisis as a start.

GRA President Jim Mulligan said funding to increase the Garda fleet and communications technology would be particularly welcome and should improve the safety of members and the effectiveness of policing.

Mr Mulligan said: “The hiring of over 200 cars for policing the pandemic back in March showed that with better resources, our members can be more responsive and provide even more community support.

“Mobility devices have been of huge benefit to roads policing during the pandemic, so the €7 million allocated for these will be of benefit once they are provided.”

The transfer of Mr Harris, along with the restart of the Northern Ireland Assembly has improved cross-border work at a critical time.

In a recent interview with Police Oracle, Mark Lindsay who is Chair of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland said co-operation between the two forces is “the best ever been”.

His assessment of the Garda’s leader is also high: “Drew Harris is an outstanding Police Officer and an individual who has unrivalled experience at the very highest levels. His grasp of the wide range of issues affecting policing in both jurisdictions means that Mr Harris comes

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