Interviewed 22 September 2021
Conor Brady is an Irish journalist, novelist and academic, a former Editor of The Irish Times, an Editor of the Garda Review, a contributor on RTÉ and a former Commissioner of the Garda Ombudsman. He is also the son of Cornelius Brady, or Con Brady, who joined An Garda Síochána in 1923 and died in service in 1962. Superintendent Con Brady was one of the Garda Superintendents who shouldered the coffin of Kevin O’Higgins, the assassinated Minister for Justice in 1927.
Conor wrote both Guardians of the Peace: The Irish Police (2000), as well as The Guarding of Ireland: The Garda Siochana & the Irish State 1960–2014 (2014). Here, Conor reflects on whether or not she might have followed his late father into the Gardaí.
MICHAEL DALTON: Had you ever any regrets of not following in your father’s footsteps seen as if you had such –
CONOR BRADY: There were times, I suppose, where I used to think, you know, life would have been a lot simpler in some ways. I wouldn’t have been a great man to keep discipline, I would have had difficulties with a chain of command arrangement. I used to actually laugh, it was kind of ironic, I remember thinking to myself when I became Commissioner in GSOC that I was invested with all of the powers, privileges, immunities, duties and responsibilities of a member of An Garda Síochána up to and including the rank of Deputy Commissioner and I remember thinking to myself: My God wouldn’t my father get a great laugh out of that, that here I was I had never served a day on the job but here I was now imbued with the full powers. I did enjoy my time with GSOC I have to say. I think we did good work. It was challenging work. Again we had a good team there. We brought in about 80 police officers mainly from English-speaking countries abroad, England, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. We didn’t always get it right but certainly, it was essential if the Guards were going to retain the confidence of the population that there was this element of independent oversight, the Guards didn’t like it at the time, there was a lot of resistance and a lot of people, a lot of Guards simply did not understand what it was about. We moved on from there and there is a general acceptance, I think, that an institution like GSOC is necessary, necessary from the Guard’s point of view, necessary from the public’s point of view. It was actually interesting from time to time down the years since I meet a guard or I meet a sergeant or I meet an inspector somewhere and he will say: I am investigated by GSOC, they came down, they interviewed me and I got a very fair deal off them and maybe I got a better deal off them than I would have got off my own.
It was a very interesting experience. Do I ever regret not having gone into a police career? Sure I regret all sorts of things. Don’t we all? I would love to have been an architect if there was enough money in the family to send me to architecture school, there wasn’t. I would love to have been an airline pilot except I didn’t have the eyesight. Regrets? Look what is the point of regrets?
MICHAEL DALTON: None.