Belfast Telegraph

New Garda Commissioner faced criticism for signing off arrest of Gerry Adams

Drew Harris, the PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable, was announced as Ireland’s Garda Commissioner on Tuesday.

Drew Harris signed off the arrest of former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in 2014.

The detention was in connection with the abduction and murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville in December 1972, when Mr Harris was head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Crime Operations.

At the time Sinn Fein heavily criticised the decision to arrest their leader during an election campaign.

Mr Harris, the PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable, was announced as Ireland’s Garda Commissioner on Tuesday.

He will lead a force undergoing reform but praised for complex investigations like that which led to the imprisonment of former Anglo Irish Bank chief David Drumm.

It faced recent criticism from a judge for its handling of an interview which led to the halting of the prosecution of a man over the killing of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black.

Mr Harris’ predecessor as Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, stood down amid mounting pressure over the slow rate of reform in the force.

Mr Harris is aged in his fifties and has 34 years of policing experience, principally in Northern Ireland, including 12 years in senior leadership roles.

He was appointed to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable responsible for Crime Operations in the PSNI in 2006 and has served as Deputy Chief Constable since 2014.

In addition to managing multiple organised and serious crime investigations, he was responsible for all intelligence gathering, operations and analytical support for the PSNI and worked closely with An Garda Siochana in this role.

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Noirin O’Sullivan stood down amid mounting pressure over the slow rate of reform in the force (Niall Carson/PA)

He also has significant experience in delivering organisational change, managing budgets and personnel management.

Mr Harris holds an MA in Criminology from the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University and a BA in Politics and Economics from the Open University.

He also holds qualifications in Leadership and Public Policy for Senior Law Enforcement Officers (FBI National Executive Institute), Company Direction and Police Studies.

His father, RUC Superintendent Alwyn Harris, was murdered in October 1989.

A Semtex bomb exploded under his car as he was on his way to church with his wife. She was also injured in the blast.

Mr Harris faced criticism following the arrest of Gerry Adams.

Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane withdrew from the Policing Board selection panel for the role of Deputy Chief Constable shortly before Mr Harris’s appointment later that year.

In his role as Garda Commissioner, he will receive a salary of 250,000 euro.

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