Gardai & Gurriers

Anthony McIntyre shares his views on the paramilitary display at a Dublin housing protest last week. 

It has been an inauspicious start for the newly minted Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris. His jacket still swinging on the coat stand, fresh to the post, his force has already become embroiled in the type of controversy his arrival was supposed to eradicate.

While it is much too early to state with any measure of certainty that the Commissioner has started out as he means to go on, his own past in the paramilitary RUC helps enhance the resolution in the picture of An Garda Siochana assuming the texture and hue of a paramilitary force in cahoots with a masked gang. This is one of those instances where perception matters.

Although Harris has distanced himself from any stance that would unequivocally support the hooded attire worn by Gardaí at last week's North Frederick Street housing protest in Dublin, in terms of public disquiet the horse has bolted. There are times when an image, like a myth, gathers inexhaustible legs and outruns the rest. The Labour Justice spokesperson Sean Sherlock characterised Gardai behaviour as intimidatory policing. This has been compounded by the sheer bias of Gardaí having arrested six people but none of them from the masked goondas who stormed the occupied house. Workers’ Party councillor Eilis Ryan conveyed a flavour of this tendentiousness in her observation:

I have been present at multiple evictions, and there is an extraordinary contrast between the scale of Garda protection of private security agents carrying out an eviction last night and the total failure of An Garda Siochana to protect the rights of tenants who are being illegally evicted by force by their landlords ... when private security agents wearing balaclavas were using force and violence to remove people from an unoccupied building, vans full of Gardaí arrived within minutes to guarantee the security agents’ safety.

It was reported that the masked men "were hired as private contractors by the landlords and did not work for a security firm." In other words it was a goon squad hired to do what bailiffs have always done.

Moreover, the alacrity with which Harris, backed by government ministers, has responded to alleged online threats to a serving member of An Garda, while making no move against the "balaclava criminals" who stormed the occupied house at the behest of landlordism, smacks of trying to deflect attention away from the most worrying aspect of the matter. Priorities have duly been inverted.

With regard to the occupation Dublin Live laid out things succinctly.

➤The masked security men arrived alongside the Garda Public Order Unit 
➤They broke the law by wearing no identification or company name 
➤Their unmarked van had no number plate on the front and a British reg on the back 
➤The van wasn’t taxed or insured 
➤Some officers also obscured their faces with masks
➤Four protesters were injured during the High Court ordered eviction.

A defensive taoiseach,  Leo Varadkar  said of the gardaí:

they’re wearing hoods, in some cases, ski masks in the other ...  they wear hoods in case there’s a risk of fire or something being thrown at them and they wear the ski masks in some cases to protect their identities but in all cases they had their badges and those badges were visible.

People will to varying degrees - their receptivity calibrated by circumstance - be understanding of the Garda wearing masks as part of fire retardant apparel which the Public Order Unit is on occasion issued with or in circumstances where the Armed Response Unit take on the armed gangs. But when the Gardaí are there only to to ensure that masked gurriers are not hindered in their task of eviction it takes only a tiny leap of imagination to think the worst and conceive of an ominous conspiracy.

No society purporting to be open and democratic should permit face covering outside of festival and pageantry.

Neither secret state nor secret police.

Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill.

Follow Anthony McIntyre on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

7 comments to ''Gardai & Gurriers"

  1. Ease up on Leo the lyingheart. Sure didn't he show the people how much he cared for the them by giving them abortion! The ungrateful peasants should show some appreciation.

  2. It looks to me that what was once a must have republican piece of attire ie,the bally, and almost always black has been replaced in keeping with the misandrist policy of fannyisation of the party,quisling $inn £anny tonight have announced that their candidate for the upcoming presidency race will be Liadhbroy ni Riada, it now looks like all those snip snips so popular with the social climbers within the party circa 80,s has left the dogs without balls,or is it simply no men need apply , it appears that if you are XY chromosome and wish to progress upwards within the party then its knickers over the old bally all the time, Gerry Itwasntme has no need for any clothes,he has Ted and the trampoline and is pure as the driven snow ,he is also known as the big girls blouse ,,,

  3. Wolfe Tone

    Leo did not grant the people abortion from on high as some sort of privilege. In a demonstration of true Republicanism, the people of the Republic of Ireland voted by an overwhelming majority of votes and by all bar one constituency to remove Article 40.3.3 from the Constitution and to give women the agency and the autonomy to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

    To focus on the substance of Anthony's piece, it is outrageous that any police service as public servants should conceal their faces in the execution of their duties.

  4. Only a complete lunatic would believe a politician grants a 'concession' to the peasants if it isn't in the politicians interest or ideology. Especially if that concession never really roused the population that much. Leo the lyingheart will win the next election due to his playing the peasants like a fiddle. Turkeys voting for Xmas in more ways than one.

  5. The fact that the Garda protected those acting illegally in the name of commercialism shows where the true power lies...they don't seem to be protecting those involved in the gang wars as much!

  6. Wolfe Tone

    Oh that "concession" which gave the people the chance to remove that uber-patriarchal clause from the Constitution really did arouse the population and much of the Irish diaspora. Just look at the turnout.

  7. well done barry - uve destroyed the uber patriarchical and replaced it with what - certainly not something uber matriarchical. uber infanticidal perhaps.


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