Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan steps down with immediate effect

The decision by the head of An Garda Síochána (Ireland's police) Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, to retire with immediate effect has been welcomed by many. Despite, Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar telling the Dail in June that he and his government had confidence in the Garda commissioner, she had faced several opposition calls for her to stand down. The Garda has been mired in a number of controversies. These have included the falsification of Garda breath tests, where it was found that there had been a significantly exaggerated number of breathalyser tests carried out. Financial irregularities at the Garda College. The Maurice McCabe affair and the whole issue of her handling of police whistle-blowers.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald welcomed her retirement and said:

"It has been clear for some time now that Commissioner O'Sullivan's position was untenable but unfortunately the government refused to act to remove her,"

"Despite scandal after scandal the government sat on its hands and refused to act, doing untold damage to the public's confidence in An Garda Síochána."

There are many who feel that even though Nóirín O'Sullivan has been allowed to resign, rather than be sacked, she should still be held to account for the role she played in the various scandals involving An Garda Síochána. Concern has been raised that simply replacing her with another commissioner will not solve the crisis in the Gardai. Although Commissioner O’Sullivan was now gone the problems in An Garda Síochána remain. There is now pressure for the Irish government to act to implement the required changes needed to restore public confidence and create a police force that is accountable and subject to democratic controls.

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