WHEN a new superintendent transfers to Kilrush later this month, he will be the 13th officer over a 25-year period to hold the post.
Superintendent John Galvin will move on promotion from Ennis to the Kilrush Garda District, when Superintendent Martin McGonnell relocates from West Clare to Blackrock in Dublin on December 13.
Superintendent McGonnell was stationed in Kilrush for 20 months.
Addressing the point that having such a high turnover of superintendents in Kilrush is not ideal, Clare Garda Chief Superintendent John Kerin acknowledged it is an issue.
“There has been a very high turnover, which certainly has not been desirable from my perspective. But, having said that, a lot of the people who have come have brought a lot of experience from different policing perspectives with them. We’ve learned from some of the people that have come there over the years,” he said.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have a person of John Galvin’s capability and standing in the community, working back in West Clare. He was a former sergeant in Kilrush and in his role as a detective inspector, he would have been in West and North Clare on investigations. So he knows the personnel, the issues and the community.
“Superintendent McGonnell worked very, very hard to make sure that things could be as good as they possibly could be over the last number of years, in trying enough circumstances and with limited enough resources. But he performed exceptionally well,” the garda chief added.
Superintendent McGonnell said that the current Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan has adopted a policy of trying to appoint senior gardaí to areas relatively local to where they live.
“The point [about the turnover of superintendents in Kilrush] is fair but, that being said, there is definitely a changed trend with the current commissioner. What she is trying to do is find candidates for positions who live close by. You can see that with the appointment of Detective Inspector John Galvin.
“He’s coming back with a wealth of experience and knowledge, not only of the local staff here but of all the issues. He also has a divisional-wide perspective on crime, which gives him an overview. They are trying to put people where they have an understanding or feeling for the place,” Superintendent McGonnell said.
“People put themselves forward on promotion and they serve at the commissioner’s discretion. Certainly, that was my case and I would like to think that I put my best foot forward,” he added.
He acknowledged that Kilrush has serious social issues and feels that its geographical isolation is a contributing factor to the lack of employment opportunities.
“The simple reality is that you have young people who feel disadvantaged. You would like to think that perhaps if you could see industry or opportunities coming out this way, it would be great.
“It’s probably very difficult to come out here because you have Ennis and Limerick on the motorway and you have Kilrush close to 50km back. That poses issues but, by and large, you would have to say that it’s a fine town with fine people,” he reflected.
A native of Monaghan, who lives in Dublin, Superintendent McGonnell said he was impressed by the level of voluntary work in Kilrush, particularly the local Tidy Towns committee.
“The other thing that really impressed me was the way the RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard blended in seamlessly with the gardaí, when a search had to be carried out. That was really impressive.
“I hadn’t been to Clare before, so a totally new vista opened up for me. I have to say, 99.9% of the people I’ve met have been so decent and they have always treated me with respect. That’s something I’ll always remember,” he concluded.
By Peter O’Connell