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Shatter move on Garda watchdog posts

Conor Lally - Irish Times

MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter is seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in taking up the three most senior positions within the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the agency that investigates complaints against gardaí

The move follows criticisms by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties when the last vacancy was filled in 2009 without open selection.

The tenure of the current three-person commission comes to an end next month, six years after the first commission’s appointment.

The current chairman is Dermot Gallagher, former secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The other two commissioners are former Irish Times editor Conor Brady and former director of consumer affairs Carmel Foley.

Mr Brady and Ms Foley were part of the first commission. At that time Mr Justice Kevin Haugh was appointed chairman. He died unexpectedly in January 2009 and was replaced by Mr Gallagher.

That appointment was criticised at the time as Mr Gallagher had just retired as secretary general of the department.

He had worked closely with former minister for foreign affairs Dermot Ahern, who had then become minister for justice.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said at the time that the government had chosen to fill the post “without the open and transparent recruitment process” expected for an agency-like commission charged with scrutinising gardaí.

The incumbents are free to reapply for their positions. However, while Ms Foley is considering reapplying, it appears Mr Gallagher and Mr Brady are set to move on from the organisation.

A shortlist of nominees will the brought by Mr Shatter to Cabinet. Candidates must be agreed by both houses of the Oireachtas and the final appointments will be made by the president.

The application process closes next Tuesday, November 8th.

Posted Date: 
2 November 2011