The Minister for Justice says he believes a new Garda Commissioner should be in place by the middle of next year.

Speaking to RTÉ News today, Minister Charlie Flanagan said the application process for the appointment was open to anyone who deems themself an appropriate person to apply.

Minister Flanagan said applicants' experience in terms of public service could be in policing, but it need not necessarily be in that sector.

He said the process was open to people from outside the jurisdiction if they could show an appropriate level of experience and expertise.

Minister Flanagan said he welcomed the fact that the process and the conducting of interviews would be independent of Government in accordance with the law.

The Minister said he believed it was important that there be no period of indefinite uncertainty and that we would have a new Commissioner by the middle of next year to provide an appropriate level of leadership to lead the charge for change in An Garda Síochána.

The vacancy arises from Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan's retirement in September.

Her retirement followed several garda controversies, including the falsification of breath tests, financial irregularities at the Garda College and the Maurice McCabe affair.

The new permanent Garda Commissioner will be selected through a competition undertaken by the Public Appointments Service at the request of the Policing Authority.

The Government will then make the appointment on the nomination of the authority. 

It will be an open competition with no restrictions on the nationality of the candidate.

Mr Flanagan said that policing experience, while desirable, would not be an essential requirement


He said: "This is the first time that the Garda Commissioner will be selected by way of an international competition under the auspices of the independent Policing Authority. 

"It marks a very significant change in the manner in which this important office will be filled and demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to deep reform across the justice sector.

"The overriding concern must be to ensure that the best candidate is selected to lead An Garda Síochána. This requires that the process attract the widest possible field from a broad range of backgrounds.

"It is for this reason that the Government has agreed that there should be no bar imposed in terms of nationality, or indeed, previous experience of policing."

It is expected that the process will take around of six months and that the salary will be increased to €250,000.

The Cabinet discussed the appointment of the new Commissioner today and when asked if the salary on offer would be increased, a spokesman said that "parameters have been set out for the salary".

"Government is of a mind that it will need to be increased in order to attract the right calibre of candidate."