‘It’s been an honour’ says retired Cork chief superintendent as he looks back on 40 years of service

“I gave 40 great years and wouldn’t change a day of it.” Retired Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan, former head of policingin Cork county, talks to Donal O’Keeffe about the job he loved, his plans for the future, and why it’s nice to move on
‘It’s been an honour’ says retired Cork chief superintendent as he looks back on 40 years of service

Con Cadogan with his grandson, Blaize Cadogan; wife, Margaret; daughters, Ashling and Eimear; and their partners, Catherine Kinsella and Jack Dowling at a special dinner to mark his retirement from An Garda Síochána at Actons Hotel, Kinsale. Picture: John Allen

‘It’s been an honour’, says retired Cork chief super

CON Cadogan says he spent the first week or so of his retirement thanking well-wishers. “It’s important, you know, to acknowledge if people go to the trouble of writing a card or a letter or making a phone call or whatever, it’s very important to acknowledge that.”

The West Cork native retired at the end of October after 40 years and two months in An Garda Síochána.

“I joined on the eighth of September, 1982, and initially came to Cork city on the 10th of February, 1983, to MacCurtain Street, and I stayed there until September 1985 when Gurranabraher opened,” the former chief superintendent recalls.

“I served there up to ’93, when I was promoted to sergeant and gave seven years in Kinsale.”

Promoted to inspector in 2000, he spent two years in Waterford and Kilkenny, before returning to Anglesea Street, where he stayed until July 2006, when he was promoted to superintendent and transferred first to Gort, and then to Fermoy. In 2008, he returned to Gurranabraher, serving as superintendent until 2016.

“I was promoted to chief in July of 2016, then I took charge of Kerry Division, and came back to Cork West Division in November of 2016. And then, in October of last year, when Tom Myers moved into the city from Cork North, I got responsibility for both Cork North and Cork West divisions,” he says.

Chief Supt Myers remains in charge of Cork City Division, and, early next year, Cork North and Cork West will be amalgamated into Cork County Division, he says.

“Cork county has one eighth of the national road network in Ireland, with 12,5000km of road network in Cork county. We have one sixth of the national coastline, when you look at it from Ardmore all the way around to Kenmare.

“The population is over a half a million as well, with a lot of very prosperous towns and a great mix of rural and urban out there.”

After four decades in uniform, will he miss being on the force?

40 YEARS SERVICE

“To a certain extent, yes, but it’s nice to move on as well,” he says. 

“You can do so much and it’s a changing and evolving organisation. I gave 40 great years and wouldn’t change a day of it, but in fairness the job has changed.”

He says that there is considerably more oversight in An Garda Síochána now than perhaps the public realises.

Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan and Chief Supt Con Cadogan pictured with new technology which enables Gardai to see if vehicles are taxed and insured in an instant at a 'suoer checkpoint' along the N25 near Carrigtwohill recently. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan and Chief Supt Con Cadogan pictured with new technology which enables Gardai to see if vehicles are taxed and insured in an instant at a 'suoer checkpoint' along the N25 near Carrigtwohill recently. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“Internally you have supervision, sergeants, inspector, supers, you have internal audit units, you have professional standard units. Then, externally, you have GSOC (Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission), the policing authority, the data commissioners, the human rights commissioner. So if you look at those alone, you’ve got seven or eight different lines of oversight.

“Oversight is needed, there’s no doubt, but there seems to be a lot of crossover between each of the oversight bodies and that’s probably something that needs to be codified into maybe one or two bodies rather than seven or eight.”

Society has changed vastly over the last 40 years, as, he says, has policing. He notes that, prior to 1984, the gardaí had a common law power to arrest anybody.

“You could hold them for a number of days, there was nothing to say that you couldn’t, and thankfully then the Criminal Justice Act of 1984 kicked in, then you had the Criminal Justice Act of ’87, treatment of persons in custody, and all those laws came in.

“If you look at from 1984 up to 2000, there must have been very close to 100 pieces of new legislation came in here in money laundering, drugs act, domestic violence act, just to name a few, even the Road Traffic Act has changed immensely from when it came out in 1960.”

He says crime has changed, with drugs having an often devastating impact on society. Another big challenge, he says, is mental health, which he says became very evident over the last three years with Covid-19.

“I can see from our frontline members going out there and dealing with communities, trying to help families who have loved ones that are in difficulty with their mental health and trying to get those supports and trying to access those supports can prove very difficult.

“And because we have been to the forefront during Covid, that’s where a lot of community support was built up, when An Garda Síochána were working with various sporting organisations and various elements of the community to try and make the community a better place.”

A native of Coolbue, Caheragh, he went to secondary school in St Fachtna’s De La Salle in Skibbereen, and he earned a diploma in food science at then Waterford Institute of Technology. He never used that diploma, heading instead straight to Templemore.

'BAD GOLF'

Now that he has retired, he doesn’t plan on taking it easy. When he was younger, he played senior rugby in Highfield and he still retains a great interest in the game. He has, of late, taken up “bad golf”.

“I take the long way around the course because the ball does not really go where I’d like it to go. It’s good exercise.”

He and his wife Margaret have two daughters, Ashling, a paediatrician in Cork University Hospital, and Eimear, who has just graduated from University College Cork with a doctorate in clinical psychology. Con and Margaret have just become grandparents for the first time.

“Ashling’s little boy, Blaize is his name, he’ll take a lot of our time now as well. The circle of life, as they say,” he smiles.

Margaret retired four years ago “and she tells me I have nothing to fear in retirement”.

He took up gardening last year, in preparation for retirement, and it has become a new passion for him.

He ends the interview as he began it, thanking people, and he returns to a recurring theme: Community. He says that, like any garda, he could not have done his job without the support of many people.

“It can be a very difficult and challenging job sometimes and we can only do it with the support of the public, and our colleagues in An Garda Síochána and the support staff.

“And also to thank the media, and the other agencies, Tusla, the HSE, all the voluntary and statutory organisations out there; the Civil Defence, the Red Cross, the Coast Guard, they’re all a huge part of the community. We’re all one community, and for me it’s been an honour to serve my community,” he says.

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