Republic of Ireland news

Drew Harris: PSNI Deputy Chief Constable named as new Garda Commissioner

Drew Harris joined the RUC in 1983. 35 years later he will make a vow to uphold the Irish Constitution as the Republic's new Garda Commissioner.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris was favourite to take the top garda post

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris has been appointed as the new Garda Commissioner.

The senior officer will take up his new role in September and will hold the post for five years.

The appointment comes following an 'international selection process' by the Public Appointments Service, on behalf of the Republic's Policing Authority.

It is the first time a commissioner has been appointed from outside the gardaí.

On his first day in the new post, the ex-RUC officer will make a solemn declaration under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 including a vow to uphold the Irish Constitution and the laws of the State.

Mr Harris was formally in charge of the PSNI's intelligence branch.

In 1989, his father Alwyn, an RUC officer, was killed in an IRA undercar bomb. His mother was also in the car at the time but survived the blast.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said Mr Harris will take up his post at a time of major reform.

The new commissioner will be required to oversee sweeping changes to An Garda Síochána, which has been hit by a series of scandals in recent years.

RUC officer Alwyn Harris was killed by an IRA bomb planted under his car at his Lisburn home in 1989

The force has come under the spotlight over officers inflating the number of breath tests carried out and its treatment of police whistle-blowers.

Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin will continue in his role until Mr Harris' appointment takes effect. He will then retire.

Minister Flanagan said Mr Ó Cualáin has been a "steady hand at the tiller in difficult times for the organisation ably supported by Deputy Commissioner John Twomey".

Announcing the appointment, he said: "I am confident that Drew Harris has the necessary ability and vital policing, security and change management experience required".  

"He will bring these talents to his leadership of An Garda Síochána - one of our most important institutions of state - along with a commitment to serving the public in the best tradition of the gardaí," he said.

Chairperson of the Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily said it was pleased to nominate Mr Harris. 

"We look forward to getting to know him and to working with him in achieving our shared objective of ensuring a modern, professional Garda service which continues to enjoy the trust of the Irish people," she said.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said the appointment will build on the PSNI and Garda's close working relationship.

"The mutual desire of both organisations to keep people safe will support us in overcoming the many challenges we jointly face, including Brexit," he said.

"In his 34 years as a police officer in both the RUCGC and the PSNI, Drew Harris has been driven by a commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our community. I have no doubt that this will continue to be his ambition as Garda Commissioner.

"He is a man of unfathomable strength, humility and grace and I have been privileged to have him serve as my Deputy Chief Constable for almost four years."

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