Martin Callinan Decommissions Himself

Old-school apparatchik steps down

I don’t know why it comes as such a shock to everyone that Martin Callinan has resigned as  Garda Commissioner.  His goose was cooked from the second he  uttered the word “disgusting” to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, and his feeble efforts to clarify what he said only made matters worse.  Besides that, his casual dismissal of the Smithwick inquiry’s findings marked him as  a man who valued blind loyalty to the Force above all else.

As if that wasn’t enough, his failure to cooperate fully with the Garda Ombudsman’s office and his blind rejection of the possibility that gardai might have been involved in the GSOC bugging betrayed his origins as a dyed-in-the-wool Templemore Guard.

Martin Callinan, like  all Commissioners, comes from deep within the Garda culture, an organisation that displays many characteristics of a secret society within a society. He started at the age of 19, spent a little while being indoctrinated in the monastic environment of the garda training college, and then went on the beat before working his way up through the ranks, as did all his predecessors.  As did his deputy.  As did the Assistant Commissioners.  As did, in fact, everyone from sergeant up.

Things have changed a little in recent years, with graduate recruitment, but it’s still too early for those changes to have a significant impact.  The entire senior structure of an Garda Síochána is drawn from a very narrow and limited slice of humanity, with its own fixed beliefs and mythologies.  No doubt there are individuals of exceptional ability among them — I could mention a few  names — but such an incestuous promotional structure can’t be a healthy model for any organisation.  The only other similar structures in the country are the Catholic clergy and organised criminals.

We’ve seen time and again how rigid and inflexible the Garda management mindset is.  By the very nature of the way senior staff are appointed, the force is inevitably stuck two or three decades in the past.  It’s very telling that no member of an Garda Síochána made it onto the shortlist for appointment as  PSNI chief constable.  They weren’t up to scratch.

This would be a good time to cast the net  wide in the search for a replacement. Ideally, the successful candidate wouldn’t be two or three years away from retirement, as most commissioners have been .  With luck, the new appointee would have a broad and varied experience of business, policing and management.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be too much to ask for a Commissioner who places a value on openness, and the ability to communicate in plain English.  And maybe it would be a good thing to appoint an individual with a wide and varied range of personal interests and accomplishments.

The force, through its own inability to cope with criticism, has left itself open to radical change.  There will be  a police oversight body of some kind.  The Ombudsman will have far greater powers.  There will be accountability.  The last thing the guards need now is an apparatchik with a siege mentality and an obsession with secrecy, but even more than that, it’s the last thing the country needs.


[UPDATE]  It now turns out that Callinan resigned because of revelations that the Gardai had been trampling on suspects’ rights for decades.




13 thoughts on “Martin Callinan Decommissions Himself

  1. Very well said Bock. Good article.

    Watching the RTE news today, Paul Reynolds spouted on about how “Senior Gardai” told him that Martin Callinan was a good policeman, very popular etc etc. Now this BULLSHIT made my blood boil. Of course they would say that because all Garda Management are cut from the same cloth. They’ll stick together regardless. If you wanted to know what people really thought of Martin Callinan, then you should ask the rank and file Gardai. The ones whom Martin Callinan turned his back on over the past two years. The ones that were left betrayed by Martin Callinan as he repeatedly cuddled up beside Alan Shatter. Ordinary Gardai despised Martin Callinan. And judging by Martin Callinan’s comments to the PAC, I think he had no respect for ordinary Gardai either. He lost the run of himself when he entered the political arena and he feathered his own nest getting his two year job extension and in doing so gave the two fingers to all beneath him.

    As an organisation, An Garda Siochana is a shambles. It is need of complete overhaul. It is outdated, rife with nepotism, laziness and ineffectiveness and still shrouded in secrecy. It is rotten from the top down. And from the bottom up, it is simply plain unprofessional. The obvious changes I can see are the need for:-

    (1) A civilian Commissioner appointed by an independent board.
    (2) Promotion interviews without any member of An Garda Siochana sitting on interview panel.
    (3) No more job for life contracts. Weed out the wasters and get rid of them.
    (4) Appoint a professionally run PR firm to handle matters for the Gardai.

  2. Is Paul Reynolds a son of Supt. Hubert Reynolds, (Pope Minder) later associated with “Control Risks” the English based spook company, just asking. I assume when the Gardai circle the “Wagons” they do not mean the RTE gossip journalists, offspring of Garda Sergeants. Disgusting!

  3. BOCK, he didn’t resign, he retired; with a clear conscience, lump sum and full pension.
    Resignation would have been an admission of guilt.
    And as for the story of telephone recording in garda stations, a smokescreen and bullshit.
    Bullshit because all government phones are connected to software that can record.
    All government departments, not limited to Justice.

  4. My take on Callinan was that he was quite a dangerous man in that he thought he was untouchable.He was in effect subverting the justice system,and that to my mind made him a very dangerous man.

  5. Maybe he’ll get a position in Irelands Secret Service, he’d be well suited to it.

  6. OUTSTANDING piece Bock, right on the money!

    BUT it’s up to our politicians to address these issues – and the only way for that to happen is if the electorate make it a top priority on the much quoted door-steps.
    Otherwise, we’ll be having this discussion again in another few years after more scandals!!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.