SpyCast 9.12.23
Ep 602 | 9.12.23

“Irish Garda Intelligence Chief” – with Assistant Commissioner Michael McElgunn

Show Notes


Michael McElgunn (LinkedIn) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss intelligence in the Republic of Ireland. Michael is the Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána’s Crime and Security Intelligence Service. 

What You’ll Learn


  • The history of An Garda Síochána
  • The intelligence components of the Garda
  • The present state of Northern Ireland relations
  • Current threats to Irish national security


  • The value of collaboration
  • Evolving alongside a changing world

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

This week on SpyCast, Anderw was joined by Michael McElgunn, the Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána’s Crime and Security Intelligence Service. The Garda is Ireland’s National Police and Security Service, founded following the Irish Civil War and the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Michael and Andrew discuss all things Irish intelligence, from Northern Ireland relations to current national security threats. 

This episode is part three of our five-part Spy Chiefs special series. If you haven’t yet, listen in to our episodes with former CIA Director David Petraeus and Former Director of Kenyan Intelligence Wilson Boinett. Stay tuned for more! 


An Garda Síochána translates to “Guardians of the Peace” in Irish Gaelic. Although Gaelic is one of Ireland’s official languages, only about 40% of the Irish population can speak the language well. This may sound low, but it comes after a long effort by the Irish government to uplift the endangered language. For an interesting look at the lingual history of Ireland, Erin recommends “Translations” by playwright Brian Freel. 

Quote of the Week

“I think people should in general take comfort from the work that is done by intelligence services and the exceptional collaboration that there is with these services to keep people safe. And that is not just at home, that's abroad – Where we come into possession of a piece of intelligence that we feel will be a value elsewhere, we'll share that elsewhere.” – Michael McElgunn.




*Beginner Resources*



  • We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, F. O’Toole (Liveright, 2023)
  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, P. R. Keefe (Anchor, 2020) 
  • Policing Twentieth Century Ireland: A History of An Garda Síochána, V. Conway (Routledge, 2013)
  • The Guarding of Ireland – The Garda Síochána and the Irish State 1960–2014: A History of the Irish Police Force, C. Brady (Gill Books, 2014)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*

  • Did you know that Arthur Guinness, the father of the “black stuff,” was once rumored to be a British spy? Accusations swirled due to his outspoken opposition of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and Irish nationalism. Well, perhaps he was a spy, but we think it’s safe to say that’s not what he’ll be remembered for!