Drew Harris appointment defended by Charlie Flanagan

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image captionCharlie Flanagan (left) has defended the incoming Garda commissioner Drew Harris (right)

The Irish justice minister has defended the new Garda commissioner saying Drew Harris is "noted very much for impartial policing".

Charlie Flanagan made his comments to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ on Sunday.

He said he was satisfied with the vetting process of the incoming commissioner.

Mr Harris, who takes up his new post on Monday, was PSNI deputy chief constable prior to his appointment.

'Enemies of democracy'

"He is noted very much for impartial policing and to service and community," Mr Flanagan said.

"His father was brutally murdered by enemies of democracy."

Mr Harris' father Alwyn was a senior police officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) when he was killed by an under car bomb in 1989.

Mr Flanagan said Mr Harris would be a member of An Garda Síochána (Irish police) from Monday morning, and would be subject to the full range of legal regulations as any other garda member would.

He said said he did not think there was a conflict between Mr Harris being bound to the UK Official Secrets Act and to the Irish Official Secrets Act.

'Politically motivated'

Mr Flanagan claimed much of the negativity around the appointment of Mr Harris was politically motivated and that he had played an important role in "ensuring that there has been a positive role between the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) and the Garda Síochána".

He added that this relationship could be strengthened further with Mr Harris as garda commissioner and that the "greatest threat to the security of this state comes from dissident republicans".

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

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