The appointment of a new Garda Commissioner is no longer a novel or unusual event.

Drew Harris is the third person to be appointed as the State’s most senior garda officer in the last three years.

However the ceremony whereby the former Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI was sworn in as Garda Commissioner was in itself highly unusual in that it took place in the middle of the night and not in Garda Headquarters but in an operational Dublin city centre garda station.

At one minute past midnight, the Acting Commissioner for the past year Dónall Ó Cualáin stepped down and Drew Harris was attested in a room on the fourth floor of Kevin Street station.

The 53-year-old declared before God that he would faithfully discharge his duties with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality and uphold the laws and the Constitution with equal respect for all people.

He signed the Code of Ethics and the Official Secrets Act and is also now the holder of an Irish passport. He told the small and specially selected audience he was "anxious to get at it."

The reaction to Commissioner Harris’ appointment has been largely positive.

It has been welcomed by Government and the Opposition, the Policing Authority and the garda representative associations.

The Garda Síochána Retired Members' Association is the only organisation to express "very real concerns" about the new Commissioner because of evidence on alleged garda collusion with the IRA he gave to the Smithwick Tribunal six years ago.

The Minister for Justice has dismissed these criticisms as "a song and dance over MI5." 

A legal challenge to Commissioner Harris’ appointment also failed. Almost everyone else seems prepared to give the new man a chance.

Commissioner Harris will have to deal with a myriad of challenging issues, from the slow pace of garda reform and modernisation to the perceived failure of the organisation to implement recommendations for change from its oversight bodies.

There are problems with the structures, organisation and morale of An Garda Síochána, aswell as discontent with the uniform, information systems, equipment and training.

The seriousness of that situation is clearly illustrated by the continuation of what many see as the ludicrous proposition of gardaí not being able to respond to emergencies as soon as possible.

Hundreds of gardaí are not allowed to drive patrol cars with blue lights and sirens at speed because they have not been trained to do so.

The new Commissioner has promised to improve training so that the gardaí have the right skills and tools to do the job effectively.

He says the systems and processes will be improved and existing resources used to best effect.

He says the gardaí will deliver to the highest possible operational and ethical standards and in a clear reference to "whistleblowers", he says the force will be more open to concerns raised internally and externally and management will speak and listen to the people with whom they work.

On the other hand, Commissioner Harris knows he has taken over a garda service that in a series of public attitude surveys has consistently shown it continues to retain the confidence of the majority of the people it serves.

While the fall in the detection rate for offences is worrying, in areas like dissident republican activity and organised crime, the gardaí have shown they can be professional, relentless, fearless and more than capable.

They continue to successfully target the most violent and dangerous cross border terrorists and gangland criminals.

The new Commissioner has recognised the "commitment, dedication and sacrifice" made by gardaí in securing the State, particularly from the threat of terrorism.

As a former PSNI officer he acknowledges this has saved lives and protected communities on both sides of the border.

He has vowed that this work must and will continue to be a priority both for the organisation and for him as Commissioner.

Commissioner Harris also inherits a garda service that is growing with more members being recruited and a promise by Government to bring the strength of An Garda Síochána up to 21,000 in three years' time. 

He must now utilise this most valuable of his resources to the optimum effect.

The father-of-four comes from a different culture and as the first Commissioner from outside the State, it’s expected his appointment will mark a radical change in the much maligned garda culture.

He’s already signalled his intention to begin that work immediately by ensuring he was sworn in as early as possible on his first day, even if that was in the middle of the night.

He said he didn’t want to wait eight or nine hours but wanted to "get into the office right away."

Keen to portray himself as a man of action, immediately after his attestation ceremony, he visited a number of garda stations and spoke to those on the frontline in the early hours of this morning to, as he put it, "illustrate the correlation between leadership and those at the coalface."

He also said he wanted to get out and see what happened in Dublin the night after an All-Ireland Final.

It’s part of what the new Commissioner says he will be focusing on in the first few months; "going out to stations and offices around the country to listen to what practical measures would help deliver the best possible service." 

He also wants the message to go out that he too is a policeman who understands that policing is a 24-hour profession, 365 days a year. 

In a message to all gardaí posted on the internal computer system at 2am this morning, Commissioner Harris said he envisages an An Garda Síochána that is responsive, accountable and fit for purpose in a modern and progressive Ireland with its primary purpose being the safety a and security of the citizens.

Over the next few months he will, in the words of the Policing Authority, have to "put flesh on the bones" of that statement. 

He will also have to take into account the forthcoming recommendations from the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. Its report is due in the next two weeks. 

Then he will have to devise not only a policing plan for the next year but an overall policing strategy for the next three years that reflects his vision for policing this country, a vision which secured him the position in the first place.