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Former PSNI chief tipped for Garda Commissioner job

Former PSNI deputy chief constable and member of Ireland's Policing Authority Judith Gillespie, is tipped to take over as Garda Commissioner

Former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie has been tipped as a possible replacement for Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, who stepped down at the weekend with immediate effect.

The commissioner gave just six hours' notice of her intention to retire citing an "unending cycle" of scrutiny amid efforts to "rectify the failures and mistakes of the past" as prompting her decision.

The force is now searching for its third Garda commissioner since 2014, having also lost Ms O'Sullivan's predecessor Martin Callinan in controversial circumstances.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said despite the sudden resignation his office will continue with the necessary reform programme of the force as the hunt for a new commissioner gets underway.

Mrs Gillespie who retired as PSNI Deputy Chief Constable in 2014 and currently sits on the Republic's Policing Authority is tipped as the most likely successor with the Republic's authorities thought to be seeking a commissioner from outside the Gardai.

The 53-year-old was Northern Ireland's most senior ranking female police officer when she retired from the force after 32-years service.

At the time she was ineligible for promotion to chief constable under current regulations, which require two years policing outside of Northern Ireland.

Her front-line policing experience, includes stints as head of the PSNI Drugs Squad, co-ordinator of the Child Abuse and Rape Enquiry Units and heading up the establishment of the force's Criminal Justice Branch.

The fact she was a serving PSNI officer during the Patten reforms, at at time when there are similar sweeping reforms planned within An Garda Síochána, makes her a possible candidate for the post.

Former colleague Will Kerr, who is a currently the Director of the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, has also been suggested as a possible replacement.

With 25-years policing experience in the RUC and PSNI before joining the NCA he has the outside experience the Justice Minister suggested was now required to implement reform of the Republic's scandal hit police force.

Other possible candidates include Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams, who is currently responsibility for local policing in the West of Scotland. With 26 years experience his previous roles have included former Chief Superintendent with responsibility for East and Mid-Lothian police.

Pat Gallan, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, a former Mersyside Police Assistant Chief Constable is also one of those the Policing Authority is thought to have earmarked as a potential candidate.

The Garda Commissioner salary may be increased to attract candidates such as Pat Gallan, current Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

Mr Flanagan said yesterday he had spoken to the chair of the authority Josephine Feehily about the recruitment of the new commissioner and also hinted that the salary may be increased to attract outside candidates with appropriate experience.

"I believe it is an opportunity, upon the appointment of a new commissioner that perhaps we broaden the base, that we have a look at the labour market and that we ultimately lead to the appointment of an expert and somebody who is best placed in order to complete the root and branch programme of modernisation and change that is underway", he said.

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