Nóirín O'Sullivan's new UN role set to boost Security Council bid

The appointment of former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to a key managerial post at the United Nations will give a big boost to Ireland’s bid to secure a seat on the ruling Security Council.

Ms O’Sullivan will now play a major role in assessing the safety and security of UN peacekeeping missions for troops from Ireland and other countries.

As a former head of a national police force, Ms O’Sullivan would be regarded as well-qualified for a role as assistant secretary general for safety and security at the UN.

The announcement of her appointment by UN secretary general, António Guterres, came on a day when the Garda whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe, disclosed that he was retiring from the Garda force.


The two were dominant figures in the whistleblower controversy, which dogged the force for several years, and led to Ms O’Sullivan’s decision to retire early as commissioner last year after what she described as an unending cycle of investigations and inquiries.

She was recently cleared of all the allegations made against her by the chairman of the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

His report said there was no credible evidence that Ms O’Sullivan played any hand, act or part in any campaign conducted against the whistleblower by Commissioner Martin Callinan and by Superintendent David Taylor.

However, the report did note that “it is also improbable that she did not have an inkling at the very least about Commissioner Callinan’s views” and added: “It was disappointing to hear her evidence on this.”

In her new role as deputy to the under secretary general for safety and security, Australian Peter Drennan, Ms O’Sullivan will be responsible for the day-to-day overall management of the department. At present, Ireland is pushing hard to win a Security Council seat.

Ireland has a record of 60 years of unbroken service to the UN peacekeeping effort, the longest of any nation worldwide. On a visit here in the past decade, former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon described the country as “punching above its weight”.

Apart from the contribution of the Defence Forces, the Garda has also played its role in overseas missions – and this all forms part of Ireland’s case for a seat.

The UN said that Ms O’Sullivan “brings to her role her extensive experience in international safety and security management, strategic management and leadership”.

“She is a leader in partnership building, leading teams and able to drive strategic change,” it added.

“She also brings an in-depth knowledge of international security, crisis management, strategic and institutional leadership and gender issues to the position.”

Ms O’Sullivan’s new department manages a security network in more than 100 countries, in support of around 180,000 UN personnel, 400,000 dependants and 4,500 UN premises. It was established in 2005 after a security review, prompted by a suicide bomber attack using a truck filled with explosives on an UN premises in Baghdad, killing 22 personnel and visitors.

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