Longford Leader Columnist: A Police State

Longford Leader


Longford Leader



Over 200 allegations against Limerick gardai, GSOC confirms

Henry Street garda station faced 115 allegations in 2015

In 1977 an Amnesty International report, detailing ill-treatment of prisoners by Gardaí made "disturbing reading". This was noted in a memo by one of Taoiseach Jack Lynch's senior officials.

Amnesty sought an "impartial investigation" into the report, which had considered 28 cases of allegations of maltreatment while in police custody, that were backed up by medical and other - physical - evidence.

Mr Lynch's private private secretary, F Murray, said it would be "undoubtedly be of considerable embarrassment to the government if the Amnesty report were published at this stage without an enquiry into the allegations into the complaints elaborated on".

Indeed. Very careful language, and that was forty years ago.

In those days Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were kings of everything political that moved in Ireland. No Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Paul Murphy, or any meaningful coterie of independents, Sinn Féin weren't even on the radar, in those days, and anyone who said they could eventually be in the Dáil, would be laughed out of court.

Gerry Adams was persona non grata, and Mary Lou was but a baby.

The report by Amnesty International was concerning a group of Special Branch Detectives, operating in the Dublin area who became known as the Heavy Gang. These police members were a law unto themselves, who'd been handed an unspoken mandate, to get confessions out of anyone they came to suspect for a serious crime. The did this by "verbal, physical or mental abuse, and operated with discretionary powers" until a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1979 put pressure on the Gardaí to operate within legislation.

The outrages carried out by The Heavy Gang were totally out of bounds. Frightening stuff, carried out with the tacit approval of government.

And we wonder why the Gardaí are presently subjected to scandal after scandal after scandal, and the Commissioner is hanging on by a thread. Why is that?

They were once given free rein, to operate as they saw fit; that's why.

The Commissioner has lost all sense of authority, yet she continues to stand firm.

In any jurisdiction where law and order are taken seriously, the head of the force would resign or step aside until the air was cleared. Except in Ireland.

In the Charleton tribunal just started, counsel for Maurice McCabe have expressed "deep concern" that the same legal team is to represent the Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and former commissioner Martin Callanan before the tribunal.

Meanwhile it has been widely reported that Martin Callanan was seen entering the premises in Phoenix Park several times in the past week.

Almost all Gardaí are being represented by another legal team.

It makes one immediately suspicious of the ability of the collective to get to the truth.

Perhaps that says more about this writer than the reality.

But perception is all.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are opposed to a vote of confidence in the Commissioner. This has nothing at all to do with what's best for the country.

Nor how much it will cost!

It's because Sinn Féin will improve their vote immeasurably - when that happens.

Are we to wait until more scandal comes tumbling from the chaos that is Garda Headquarters.

The fallout is just starting...

Ireland is becoming a laughing stock, internationally.

No true decency in politics anymore.