Garda Commissioner Drew Harris: I worked hard not to be bitter after my father was killed by IRA

Garda Commissioner Drew HarrisGarda Commissioner Drew Harris
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said he worked hard not to become bitter after his father was killed by the IRA.

The senior officer’s father Alwyn, a Superintendent in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), died in a car bomb attack in 1989.

Mr Harris had also been an officer in the RUC at the time.

He remained in the force when it became the Police Service of Northern Ireland and rose to the rank of Deputy Chief Constable before taking on the top job at the Garda in 2018.

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“It takes a long time to come to terms with something as difficult, as traumatic and as awful in your life, and you carry it with you every day,” he told RTE’s The Late Late Show.

“Every day I would think about my father, but in terms of me as a police officer and now the Garda Commissioner, what it means to me is I think I have an empathy for those who have been the victim of serious crime.

“In lots of ways it has had a profound effect on my outlook at to what policing should be … and what we should do for those who are without a voice or might be marginalised in society.”

He said he has worked hard at not being bitter.

“In these things you have perhaps a choice, I was married to Jane, we had our first son and then we had another three children after that, and you have a choice in terms of the household your children are going to grow up into, and so I worked hard at not being bitter,” he said.

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“I don’t mean to be smart or clever, or shine a halo when I say that, because it was very difficult and it took a long time to get to that point, but at the same time you have your own life to live and nobody would be more upset than my father if he though I was just living an embittered life.”

Asked if he felt the need to forgive the killers, Mr Harris said he was neutral on that.

“They have never sought atonement, and forgiveness is a two-way street,” he said.