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Tuesday, June 07, 2005 

Lusk, the Morris Report and Dogs that aren't barking

Irish people will no doubt be familiar with the events surrounding the Lusk post-office raid last week, where the Garda ERU shot dead two raiders, only one of whom was carrying a gun. This is far from the first time that armed Dirty Harrys have run amok, as with Abbeylara (an ill man shot in questionable circumstances) and Athy (a Guard shot by one of his own gung-ho colleagues) .

American ex-pat Richard Delevan (who I don't agree with on a great many other things) succintly echoes my own opinions on this here. Of course, as Auds at realitycheck(dot)ie demonstrates, there is a natural temptation for those of us affected by the actions of thugs to want revenge. I understand the impulse to (violent) retribution, but it is something that we should always consciously reject, as it inevitably leads to unintended, horrific consequences.

Yes, most Gardaí are decent, upright people who are a credit to the force. A lot of us have friends and relatives in the Guards. But when the Guards become corrupt or otherwise get out of control, the lack of effective oversight, the network of conspiratorial "crime correspondants" and the virtual code of silence within the ranks means that matters can get out of hand very quickly. With Lusk, we were treated again to a steady, carefully measured drip of information doled out to favoured reporters who could be counted on not to ask the wrong questions.

Such happened in Donegal, where a large portion of the local Gardaí became a law unto themselves. A criminal conspiracy of Guards with RUC men across the Border gave rise to bogus, planted weapons finds. An innocent man was accused of murder by the local Guards, then fitted up and his family placed under a reign of intense harassment for a number of years, only coming to an end when certain members of the Oireachtas took a courageous stand.

The McBreartys deserve the full support of the Irish public in holding those who conspired or turned a blind eye fully to account, lest it happen again to other unfortunate citizens. That this scandal travels up the Garda chain of command right to HQ has been clearly articulated by Vincent Browne, Phoenix magazine and other media outside the cosy little back-scrubbing arrangement between Garda 'sources' and their stenographers in the press.

And what of the almighty political blogs? Where are the crusades we might expect, such as were promised when Lenihan uttered his "kebabs" remark? Nowhere to be found, apparently. An American puts us all to shame. Even the pompously-entitled 'Freedom Institute', who boldly claim they "will never shy away from expressing its view on any issue" apparently have no comment at all to make even a week later (in spite of having no fewer than seven bloggers on their site) apart from a particularly weak excuse. (Though they do, apparently, have the spare time to post about how "Woman Mistakes Piranahs For Goldfish" - and no, they're not talking metaphors).

Postscript: well, Gavin has posted some worthy thoughts on this topic tonight:

"The document itself, though long, is easy reading and has little legal language. But it only deals with very specific terms of reference, not taking into account the actions of the Department of Justice, the AG or the Minister for Justice. One has to ask the question, what do these people have to fear?

This issue will resurface again in the future in a different form. Perhaps an undercover operation, akin to the Nursing Home Prime Time program on RTE. An undercover journo recruited into the Gardai will unveil behaviour that may shock the nation into action. For now the State seems quite happy to say “We accept the report”, but feck all will be done in relation to its recommendations.

As a PS, a dedicated weblog would serve as a very good base from which to work, an anti-corruption blog if you will. It would help keep stories alive that the mainstream media have let slide, and serve as a forum for concerns about corruption. Anonymous weblog detailing stories of corruption anyone?"

I entirely agree. The problem is, that there are few individuals both brave enough and credible enough to do such a thing. We very badly need a Nuala O'Loan-type Police Ombudsman south of the Border - if Michael McDowell is prepared to match rhetoric with action, we might finally get one.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)



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