Michael Joseph Staines (1885-1955) was appointed Commissioner of the Civic Guard from February 21st to September 9th, 1922 by the Garda Siochana (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, FIRST COMMISSIONER, GARDA SIOCHANA NA hEIREANN
Born in Newport, Co. Mayo; Gaelic League, Sinn Fein, Irish Volunteers (1914) Brigade Quartermaster, Quartermaster general; G.P.O. Garrison, 1916, and interned in Frongoch, North Wales. On his release with Eamonn de Valera, James Ryan, Eamonn Duggan and others formed the New Ireland Assurance Collecting Society to give expression to the founding ideals of non violent Sinn Fein including investment of national resources at home in Ireland (1918).
Dublin Corporation and Dail Eireann (1919) afterwards member of the Senate of the Irish Free State. He directed the activities of the Police Organising Committee set up by the Provisional Government (February 1922) and emerged in the words of General Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Defence as “obvious choice” for the post of Commissioner of the new police.
When a faction of the Civic Guard rejected his leadership in the mutiny at the Kildare Depot, Staines tendered his resignation. “In the circumstances, I can see no other honourable course open”. (May, 1922) His membership of Dail Eireann and Dublin Corporation was deemed incompatible with the responsibilities of the head of the Civic Guard, and his resignation was accepted “with regret” on 22nd August, 1922.
Michael Joseph Staines remained in office, completing the ground work in the organisation of the new police force. On the day he left office, September 9th, he issued instructions to the Civic Guard defining its role as a moral force in Irish Society.
The Civic Guard unlike other Police Forces will necessarily depend for the successful performance of their duties not on arms or numbers but on the moral force they exercise as servants, representatives of a civic authority which is dependent for its existence on the free will of the people.