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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris Speech at the National Garda Centenary Event, Dublin Castle, Saturday, 27th August 2022

Issue Date: 27/08/2022

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"…..to succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on our moral authority as servants of the people.”

Minister, Elected Representatives, Colleagues both serving and retired , Invited Guests,

I am honoured to welcome you all to this symbolic place to mark a very special occasion.

We come together this afternoon to commemorate the foundation of An Garda Síochána – Ireland’s national police and security service.

It was here in August 1922 that our first Garda Commissioner, Michael Staines, led relatively new members of An Garda Síochána through the Palace Street gates of Dublin Castle - the then centre of British rule.

It was then too that Dublin Castle, which had long served as a base for policing in Ireland, was formally handed over.

And it remains a hub of much Garda activity to this day, with several of our units operating from here.

It is also the place of our Garda Museum and our very special Memorial Garden.

In the century since that pivotal moment in history, tens of thousands of people have come to dedicate their working lives as Gardaí to protect the safety of the communities we proudly serve.

Today, there are over 14,000 highly trained Gardaí and over 3,000 Garda Staff. All working to uphold the ideals of those who founded us 100 years ago.

These ideals are best reflected in our development of community based policing in Ireland.

Policing in partnership with people and communities.

Working together in unison to enhance our ability to keep citizens safe based on our strong tradition of policing by consent.

The result is a highly trusted police service that is world renowned for its close connection to communities.

An unarmed police service that has on countless occasions over the last century demonstrated dedication, professionalism, and bravery to protect the public.

This did not happen by accident or good fortune.

It was achieved by generations of Gardaí adhering to the ethos outlined by the Commissioner who led the Gardaí through the gates of Dublin Castle 100 years ago.

On the founding of this organisation, Commissioner Staines said that An Garda Síochána would succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on our moral authority as servants of the people.
This visionary mission continues to be at the very centre of all that we do as Gardaí.

While this mission has remained constant over the last 100 years, as Ireland has changed, so has An Garda Síochána.

And in response to the changing needs of the people we serve, our organisation has been undergoing a process of change.

Here in Dublin Castle exactly a century ago, An Garda Síochána was a newly formed but quickly emerging police service.

We are now a large, ever expanding organisation working across divisions and dedicated units in areas of local, national and international priority.

An Garda Síochána is a broad network of local and national units, and specialist and support services that are dedicated to preventing and detecting crime.

We are continuing to put in place major ICT infrastructure suitable for the modern day policing.

We are undertaking the largest reshaping of An Garda Síochána in its 100 years under the Garda Operating Model to provide more localised services.

Just two weeks ago we introduced a new, more practical operational uniform to reflect our modern police service.

It is vital that in the coming years and decades that An Garda Síochána continues to grow and evolve so as to meet the rapidly changing demands on policing.

As Ireland’s national security service, An Garda Síochána has encountered and responded to difficult periods in Ireland’s past.

Many of us here will remember there was a time, not so long ago in fact, when our democracy was under direct threat.

An Garda Síochána was at the forefront of protecting our democracy during those dark days.

This threat has not fully dissipated and, of course, there are also now further threats to State security from outside this island.

By its nature, this aspect of our work often cannot be discussed in detail or in public at all.

But remarkable work has been done to counter very real and sustained threats to our national security from a range of actors.

This work, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and security services, is one of An Garda Síochána’s greatest achievements over the past century.

Over the last 100 years, there have been incidents of crime that have shocked and dismayed us all.

Lives taken through criminality and others left altered forever.

Yet time and time again, Gardaí have been trusted and relied upon to step in and go the extra mile to help and protect others.

But, of course, while there have been very significant successes that have greatly benefited our society, there have been times throughout the decades when we did not meet our own high standards or the standards expected of us– when we could have and should have done better for the Irish people.

We must ensure these mistakes are not repeated.

And we must learn the lessons of the past.

And because history tells us that it is critical we learn the lessons of the past.

We are striving to be even more open and transparent.

To be constantly aware of those who may be vulnerable in our society, and do all we can to guarantee the protection of the human rights of every individual we interact with.

And to ensure that our organisation is reflective of the diverse society we serve so proudly.

The evolution of our organisation over the past century has not been without its challenges.

The demands placed on members of An Garda Síochána continue to grow in parallel with a rising population.

The breadth and variety of duties has expanded considerably.

And the challenges we encounter as a consequence.

Our responsibilities now extend into many areas – locally, nationally and internationally.

This will continue as the nature of criminality continues to evolve.

It is essential that we are in position to meet these challenges and threats

As we gather here today on such a special and important occasion, I want to pay tribute to our colleagues – Gardaí, Garda staff and Garda reserves – to those who came before us, established our service, and committed themselves to serving communities over the course of the past 100 years.

To the generations of Garda personnel - retired and present - who built an organisation that is set on a solid foundation.

Those who willingly dedicated their working lives and sacrificed so much to keep the public safe with dignity and honour.

Who were motivated to work to the highest standards.

We especially remember those that have passed on, in particular our 89 colleagues who were killed in the course of their duty and whose ultimate sacrifice remain with us always.

They are the epitome of An Garda Síochána.

Dedicated Guardians of the Peace.

They make us extraordinarily proud of the privilege it is to wear this uniform and represent this great organisation.

Thank you.