Costigan, Daniel (1911–79), civil servant and Garda commissioner, was born 18 February 1911 in Derryfada, Kealkil, Bantry, Co. Cork (where the Costigan family had lived for many generations), elder surviving son and third among six children of James Costigan (d. 1956) and Anne Costigan (née O'Shea), farmers. Educated at Kealkil national school and St Finbarr's College, Farranferris, Cork, he won a scholarship to UCC (1929). Despite a desire to study engineering, he decided in November 1929 to enter the civil service, having taken first place in the civil service entrance examinations. He served in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs as an executive officer (1929–32) and then as an assistant inspector of taxes (1932–5) for the revenue commissioners. At the Department of Justice he was an administrative officer (1935–9), assistant principal officer (1939–46), principal officer (1946–9), and assistant secretary (October 1949–July 1952); during the latter period he served on an interdepartmental committee of inquiry into the police service (1950).
On 16 July 1952 Costigan, to the disappointment of ambitious senior gardaí, was appointed garda commissioner as successor to Michael Kinnane (qv), another civil servant. A brilliant administrator, Costigan accelerated much-needed reform by amending some aspects of the outmoded and oppressive regulations modelled on those of the RIC. Travelling extensively in Britain and Ireland, he studied police organisation and greatly improved the lot of the ranks through better pay and housing conditions and making tolerable the disciplinary regime and duty tours. He also encouraged improvements in technical equipment, transport, communications, and training.
By the mid 1950s the founding generation of gardaí was retiring and a recruitment drive ensued. The new gardaí were not content to accept the poor lot of their predecessors, and while reform was Costigan's priority it did not come quickly enough, hindered as it was by the Department of Justice and the conservatism of the senior officer cadre. Costigan did have substantial success, however. In 1959 he commenced the recruitment of women, secured the franchise for gardaí, and saw the introduction of arbitration facilities. However, serious discontent in garda ranks arose in October 1961 when a pay scale was announced that made no provision for gardaí with less than five years service. Much to the dismay of the younger members of the force, the agreement was accepted by the Garda Representative Body, and discontent now extended to a body that appeared not to represent garda interests.
With genuine resentment directed at both the Department of Finance and the Garda Representative Body, a meeting was organised for 4 November, to be held at the Macushla Ballroom, Amiens St., Dublin. At least 200 members of the force turned up, of whom at least 150 later received charge notifications for discreditable conduct. In response gardaí in Dublin city centre operated a ‘go-slow’ where petty crime was ignored. On 9 November Charles Haughey (1925–2006), minister for justice, committed himself to an assessment of the process of pay negotiation for the Garda Síochána, provided discipline was restored in the force. Later that day Costigan, with Haughey's prior approval, dismissed eleven of those who had attended the meeting at the Macushla Ballroom. The intervention of Archbishop John CharlesMcQuaid (qv) some days later, which led to assurances from the dismissed that there would no further acts of indiscipline, allowed Costigan to assure the minister that discipline was now restored. The eleven dismissed gardaí were reinstated and Haughey initiated a review of elections to and the functioning of the various garda representative bodies
Costigan presided over significant organisational changes in the early 1960s. A juvenile liaison scheme was established in 1963, the Dublin metropolitan area was reorganised and expanded in 1964, and the same year the Garda training depot was moved from Phoenix Park to Templemore. Early in 1965, under pressure from the government Costigan resigned as commissioner (5 February). Announcing the appointment of a career garda as new commissioner, Brian Lenihan (qv), minister for justice, commented that ‘every recruit garda should feel at the outset of his career that he carried a commissioner's baton in his holdall’ (Ir. Times, 6 Feb. 1965). Costigan returned to the Department of Justice to work in the law reform section, remaining there until he retired from the civil service on 1 December 1972. He died 10 September 1979.
He married (July 1941) Hilda Margaret (d. 1966), daughter of Matthew Drum of Blackrock, Co. Dublin, sometime civil servant and banker. They had three daughters and three sons, including the cookery writer Brenda Costigan McDonald and Mark Costigan, broadcaster and sometime deputy government press secretary. The family lived at Merlyn Road, Ballsbridge.