Europe

'I'm Irish' says new garda chief Harris

Drew Harris Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Mr Harris was sworn in as Garda Commissioner on Monday

The new Garda Síochána commissioner Drew Harris has said he considers himself Irish and that his appointment represents new relationships on the island of Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ's Sunday with Miriam programme, Mr Harris said: "I am Irish. Now that I'm here, it seems very natural to be working here."

Mr Harris was sworn in as Garda Commissioner on Monday.

It is the first time the job has been given to an external candidate.

"My appointment makes a wider point between relationships on this island and relationships between north and south," he said.

'We would share information'

Harris' appointment has drawn some controversy. Recently, a legal bid to challenge Mr Harris' appointment was dismissed by the High Court in Dublin.

The case was brought by Ciarán MacAirt, whose grandmother died in the 1971 McGurk's Bar bombing in Belfast.

Mr MacAirt claimed there was never a proper investigation into the bombing, and that there was an RUC cover-up.

Mr Harris addressed the concern of victims' families and said that if he or the PSNI had any additional information to share to help with these investigations, it would be shared.

"I have always shown the highest standards of behaviour and ethical behaviour," said Mr Harris.

Background

Mr Harris has a policing career spanning 35 years, starting in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

For the past four years he had been second in command of the PSNI, serving as deputy to Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Mr Harris was sworn last week in as head of the Irish police, when he signed an oath in front of justice and Garda officials.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Drew Harris has a policing career spanning 35 years

Mr Harris joined the police when he was 18 years-old.

In his interview, Mr Harris recounts his grief of losing his father Alwyn Harris, an RUC officer who was murdered by the IRA.

"In truth, the grief was overwhelming. Anger was not my first or second emotion," he said.

"I knew it was important not to be lost to bitterness and try not to be bitter. I worked hard at that.

"Not to say I'm some sort of angel, I'm not."

He said that when he was sworn in as Garda Commissioner, he kept his father's old whistle in his pocket.

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