Victims' group questions suitability of top PSNI officer for Garda commissioner's post

The Relatives for Justice (RFJ) group has cited a senior PSNI officer's 'pride in the RUC' when apparently questioning his suitability as a potential Garda commissioner.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 31st May 2018, 8:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 10:16 am

Drew Harris, who joined the RUC in 1983 and is the current PSNI deputy chief constable, is reported to have been shortlisted for the top policing job in the Republic following the resignation of Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Responding to the report in Thursday’s Irish News, RFJ published the contents of a speech given by the group’s chief executive Mark Thompson in the US last year regarding the inquest of UVF murder victim Roseanne Mallon.

Mr Thompson said documents provided to the court, relating to meetings between senior police and retired officers, revealed that: “[Judith] Gillespie and Harris had “let it be known that legacy is a defining issue for the RUC and PSNI – that they too were very proud of their RUC service – and that this required them to paint a better picture of events.”

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PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris has been linked with Garda role

Earlier in the day, RFJ deputy director Andree Murphy tweeted: “Drew Harris for Garda Commissioner ... it’s hard to find the words,” with a link to a BBC report on Mr Harris’s evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal in 2013.

The new commissioner will have a salary of €250,000 (£220,000) and will oversee a major programme of sweeping changes to the force of 16,000 officers.

Mr Harris is the son of Alwyn Harris – a senior RUC officer who was murdered by an IRA bomb under his car outside his Lisburn home in 1989.

In 2014, Drew Harris sanctioned the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in relation to the 1972 murder of Jean McConville in Belfast. No charges were brought against Mr Adams.

Later the same year, Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane withdrew from the NI Policing Board at the time of Mr Harris’s appointment as deputy chief constable. However, the party said the resignation was in protest at the selection process rather than any of the candidates for the job.