Co Cork’s high number of road deaths, the prevalence of drug use, drug debt and online fraud, are just some of the challenges facing the region’s new garda chief
HAVING spent the majority of his policing career in Cork city and Dublin, newly-appointed Chief Supt Vincent O’Sullivan, who is the new boss in charge of the Cork West and Cork North Garda Division, is glad to now be based at the divisional HQ in Bandon.
The Snave, Bantry native is the second consecutive West Cork man to head up the division following Caheragh’s Con Cadogan, who had the role from 2016 until his retirement last year.
With a strong tradition of policing in his family, Vincent joined An Garda Síochána in 1997 and spent 22 years working in Cork city between Watercourse Road, Gurranabraher and Anglesea Street garda stations.
Before his current appointment, he spent two years in Dublin as a detective superintendent in special tactics operation and command.
‘I really enjoyed my time there and it was a very interesting position as we were dealing with incidents of high risk. But I am delighted to be home now,’ Chief Supt O’Sullivan told The Southern Star.
His appointment comes at time of major change, too, within the operational model of An Garda Síochána, which will see the official amalgamation of the Cork West and Cork North divisions in May. This will result in one Cork County division, stretching from Youghal in the east all the way to Eyeries in the west.
‘That will of course bring with it new challenges when dealing with such a large division to police, but I’m looking forward to it, as well as visiting the garda stations across the newly-created division and meeting the communities.’
He took up his new post on October 26th last, replacing Chief Supt Cadogan. There was a short period of overlap so he could familiarise himself with the requirements of his new role.
‘Con certainly set high standards here in the division and built up very good relationships in the community so I look forward to developing these further across the board,’ said Chief Supt O’Sullivan.
He acknowledged that his biggest challenge since taking up his new role is tackling the high number of road traffic fatalities that occurred in the county last year, something which he reported at a recent Cork County joint policing committee (JPC) meeting.
There were 11 deaths in the Cork West division and one in the Cork North division, meaning Cork county had the highest number of road traffic fatalities in the whole country last year. Of those killed, 10 were male and two female. They comprised not only motorists, but two motorcyclists, one mobility scooter operator, and two pedestrians.
‘We had a situation where we had three deaths in the Macroom area in one week alone, just before Christmas. This highlights the need for vigilance and to avoid complacency on our roads. My message to the public is that we will be doubling down on enforcement and visibility on the roads this year.’
He is also asking the public to consider their driver behaviour, pointing out that a lot of road traffic collisions are down to poor decision-making.
‘I am asking people to plan their night ahead, don’t take a chance on drinking and driving. Be present to the nature of road conditions and remember, the speed limit is not a “target”.’
Knocking on someone’s door to tell them that a loved one has died as a result of a road traffic collision is unfortunately part of every garda’s job.
‘We are here to keep people safe and I want to get that message out there. We have had a lot of serious injury accidents too, with people left with life-changing injuries.’
Drugs, drug debt and intimidation are also areas that Chief Supt O’Sullivan wants to address.
‘A lot of pain and destruction is caused to families due to drugs and I’m really focussed on working with communities across this division to address the whole area.’
Fraud, too, is on the rise and he describes it as ‘rampant’ in Cork county.
‘The rise in technology is giving criminals greater access to target a person online and if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. These people are very convincing and professional. But don’t be embarrassed to report an incident of online fraud to gardaí.’
He is also encouraging the community to engage with their local gardaí on any matter. ‘Never assume we know something – if you see something suspicious call it in. That little piece of information could be the catalyst to solving the most complex of cases.’