Updated: 11/09/17 : 04:55:55
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Commissioner steps down, another view

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

JUSTICE MINISTER Charles Flanagan is on the record of the Dáil as being open to changing the name of the Garda to be 'a police service.'

In her personal farewell message to colleagues outgoing Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan trod similar sentiments last night, Sunday.

She spoke, rightly, of her own personal 'service' and referred several times, rightly, to the 'organisation.'

Rightly, she did not use the word 'Force' to describe that organisation or service.

Everything that is wrong about the police service in the Republic flows from that one word, too often used.

Force? 'I will because I can make you and theres not much you can do about that, either.'

Is there a better explanation than that for what underlies the scale of fake breath tests stats on Garda computer systems.

Alter Ethos

Words alone will NOT alter the world of 'good' and 'bad,' never will either. 

But the exclusion of ideas such as 'force' and its replacement by ideas such as 'service' could alter the ethos of those who have yet to come to Templemore.

For those already in the service the Policing Authority and Department of Justice need to set goals for a five to year 'transition.'

That needs to be fully costed and properly funded by the State if it is to avoid the fiascos of the Health Service Executive in its 'transitions,' heavily underfunded.

Nothing should be on or off the table as we move well into the 21st century.

The colour of the uniform, do we arm rank and file in cities, do we accelerate civilianisation into admin roles, including senior management.

Civilian Management

A civilian layer would be distinct from the senior operational officership and have its autonomy.

It could include accountants, personnel managers, counsellors and so on.

Meanwhile, the next Commissioner could come from, say, Canada; who knows.

But we need to be careful not to breach, by word or intention, our own employment laws and careful not to deny our own serving officers or Irish citizens.

Crude Cull

This writer was not one of those ever calling for the resignation of Noirin O'Sullivan and argued against a crude cull and short-term fixes.

Her statement after resignation yesterday afternoon implied many (fair) questions about the unfairness, sometimes, of journalism and/or politics. So it goes.

Part of Noirin O'Sullivan's early career in the 1980s was spent close by our offices in the original Sunday Tribune, itself always an exciting enclave.

She was one of 'The Mockies,' who posed as heroin users to see the eyeballs of the country's principal suppliers, those wreckers of a whole generation.

Excellent Service

It would be remiss, and wrong, not to fully acknowledge such excellent public service and seen all along the way to the very top job.

It must be always acknowledged Noirin O'Sullivan breached the glass ceiling in what was, largely, a mans, mans world. 

She did so through Independent and open competition; one massive achievement which cannot and should not be gainsayed by the service's shortcomings found on her watch.

Excellent Histories

Not everything is broken and conversely there may be 'no easy fix,' for a long time after she is gone either.

Not everything that is now broken was (first) broken on her watch; Conor Brady's two excellent histories of the police service makes the contexts much clearer.

In that respect, too, Taoisigh Enda Kenny and Leo Varadkar were correct in their reasons for expressing support for Noirin O'Sullivan. 

Help Healing

Noirin O'Sullivan knew herself when it was time to go. Her analysis of the path to that decision is mostly correct, too. She has taken responsibility.

Her farewell statement to colleagues was generous, grateful and gracious.

The general public can best help in the healing by reciprocating all three.