39. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the appointment process for the position of Garda Commissioner; if he has considered the concerns expressed by the Commission on the Future of Policing about making such an appointment before the commission has finished its work; and his further views on whether it might be premature to make such an appointment before that process is completed. [51979/17]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: The Policing Authority under section 9 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, has responsibility for nominating persons for appointment by the Government to the post of Garda Commissioner. In the meantime, we have an excellent acting Commissioner in Dónall Ó Cualáin who is exercising the full powers of a Garda Commissioner.
This will be the first time that the new legislative process is utilised and I have consulted with the chair of the authority about a process to identify and appoint a permanent Commissioner to An Garda Síochána. We are agreed that it is crucial that a deliberate and considered recruitment process takes place so that the best possible candidate is appointed following a selection process. We are also agreed that an overly long delay in the appointment of a new Commissioner would not be optimal for the organisation in terms of performance and morale.
As I have previously stated the authority has, over the past number of months, undertaken some essential ground work for the recruitment process in advance of the formal triggering of the statutory process by Government. This work has included the conduct of some research into aspects of the appointment process and engagement with my Department and with the Public Appointments Service which will undertake the competition on behalf of the Policing Authority.
Having regard to the progress made by the authority I would expect that the Government will be in a position to formally approve the authority issuing an invitation to the Public Appointments Service to conduct the selection process very shortly. Once this is done, I would anticipate that it could take up to six months to identify and appoint a successful candidate. In the interim I have authorised a deputy Commissioner to exercise all of the functions of the Garda Commissioner during the term of the vacancy.
As the Deputy is aware, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is undertaking a comprehensive review of all aspects of policing in the State and not due to complete its work until September next. I am sure the Deputy will agree that it would not be in the public interest, or in the interests of An Garda Síochána as an organisation or its members, to allow uncertainty to surround the leadership of the national police service for such a lengthy period.