13. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she is satisfied with the process undertaken by the Policing Authority regarding the recent competition and selection for the rank of assistant commissioner in An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15699/17]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will be aware that the Policing Authority is an independent statutory body established on 1 January 2016 to, amongst other things, oversee the performance of the Garda Síochána in relation to policing services, to promote public awareness of policing matters and to promote and support the continuous improvements in policing in Ireland.
A key function of the Authority relates to the appointment of persons to the senior ranks of An Garda Síochána. Following the commencement of the remaining provisions of the Garda Síochána (Policing Services and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 and related Regulations on 1 January 2017, this power of appointment formally vested in the Authority.
On 25 January 2017, the Authority advertised a competition for appointment to the rank of Assistant Commissioner in An Garda Síochána. The competition proceeded in accordance with the governing Regulations and the Authority’s “Statement of Practice for the Conduct of a Selection Competition for Appointment to the Rank of Assistant Commissioner in the Garda Síochána”.
I am advised that a key element of the process was the establishment by the Authority of a selection board which included an external Chair. Following short-listing of candidates, preliminary interviews and a final competitive interview the Authority established a panel of five candidates for appointment in the order of merit determined by the selection board. The person placed first on the panel was appointed at the meeting of the Authority on 23 March 2017.
Clearly, this is a new beginning as it represents the first time that there has been an appointment to the senior ranks of An Garda Síochána by a statutorily independent body. It was also the first time that appointment to Assistant Commissioner was open to the ranks of Inspector, Superintendent and Chief Superintendent in both the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
I am delighted that the major change in the system of promotions to these ranks envisaged when the Authority was being established has now come to fruition. I would like to congratulate the Authority and its staff on the successful organisation of the selection competition. The Authority is currently conducting a competition for appointment to the Chief Superintendent rank.