Comment from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris following his attestation at 00.01 today in Kevin Street Divisional Headquarters, Dublin.
Commissioner Harris said:
"I am very honoured and privileged to have become Garda Commissioner today.
Firstly, I would like at this time to pay tribute to Donal Ó Cualáin who is retiring from An Garda Síochána after 35 years of dedicated service. As Acting Commissioner, Donal’s wise and ethical leadership was central to steering the organisation through a difficult period. I wish Donal and his family all the best in a long, healthy and happy retirement.
Throughout its history An Garda Síochána has played an important role in Ireland. Its focus on community policing has created strong bonds with the people. This connection has been vital in preventing and tackling crime, and, as a result, in protecting and supporting communities. It is critical that this policing ethos of protecting our fellow citizens is maintained and enhanced. I will be particularly focused on ensuring that we do all we can to protect the vulnerable.
I know at first hand the commitment, dedication and sacrifice that has been made by members of An Garda Síochána in securing the State, particularly from the threat of terrorism. This has saved lives and protected communities on both sides of the border. That work must and will continue to be a priority for the organisation and me as Commissioner.
We need to move quickly to adapt to a changing society to ensure that we are strongly positioned to protect the State, communities and the vulnerable. This is clear from the numerous reports into the organisation, the views of the public as expressed through the Garda Public Attitudes Survey, and from the views expressed internally through the Cultural Audit and staff representative bodies.
To do this we will make use of our resources to best effect. We will deliver to the highest possible operational and ethical standards. We will improve our systems, processes and training so our people have the right tools and skills to do their job effectively. We will have a workplace of openness and transparency, of equality of opportunity, and of management at all levels speaking with and listening to the people they work with. We will be more open to concerns raised internally and externally.
I envisage an An Garda Síochána that is responsive, accountable and fit for purpose in a modern and progressive Ireland with its primary purpose being the safety and security of our citizens.
Every day the men and women of An Garda Síochána across all ranks and grades make a positive contribution to their community. An Garda Síochána has a proud tradition of public service that has kept this State safe. The organisation has many excellent attributes that must be kept and built on.
Most critically, people in An Garda Síochána are fully committed to ensuring the organisation develops to meet the needs of society. This is a strong foundation from which to build on.
I wanted to have my attestation at the first possible minute of taking up the role in an operational station for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to start the job right away. Secondly it is a reminder that An Garda Síochána is a 24-7, 365 service. Thirdly, it shows the connection between the leadership of the organisation and our members on the frontline.
There has been some talk about my team. An Garda Síochána is now my team. It is my responsibility to lead the organisation and I very much look forward to working with all Garda members, Garda staff and Garda reserves to provide this country with the high quality policing and security service it wants and deserves.
Speaking at the attestation, Deputy Garda Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said:
"On behalf of An Garda Síochána I would like to welcome Mr Drew Harris to An Garda Síochána as Commissioner.
Drew Harris has had a distinguished career. More than 30 years of dedicated service. During that time he has held many important roles in the PSNI and in the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers.
Throughout his career in his different roles, he has always shown a great concern for the protection of the vulnerable and for promoting the very important role that police services have to play in doing this. I know that he will continue to stress this as Garda Commissioner.
Any time a Garda Commissioner takes up the role is a historic occasion. This is especially the case given that Drew is joining us having served with the PSNI.
Drew joins An Garda Síochána at a great time. A challenging time yes, but also a time of great opportunities.
We are a growing organisation with new members and staff joining every day.
We are introducing modern ICT systems that will improve how we deliver our services.
We are improving the resources we can provide our people – this state-of-the-art station we are in today is evidence of that.
We still have some way to go, but we are going in the right direction.
In addition, despite the difficult issues we have gone through, the vast majority of people trust An Garda Síochána. The vast majority of people also don’t believe there is a significant crime issue in their local area. So we are doing some things right. But we also know that we have improvements to make in a number of important areas.
Personally, I look forward to working with Drew to build on the best attributes of An Garda Síochána.
I want to wish Drew all the best as Garda Commissioner and let him know that the organisation is here to support him and work with him to deliver on our ultimate goal of making Ireland a safe place to work, live and visit.