Garda Commissioner On The Radio

 Posted by on November 17, 2008  Add comments
Nov 172008

Did anyone hear the Garda Commissioner on the radio yesterday morning?

Well?  What did you think of Fachtna Murphy’s performance?

I found it dispiriting, in a time when we were never more in need of a professional police force, to hear their leader mouthing pre-digested platitudes, as if that sort of pompous old nonsense still impresses us.

What struck me most of all was the poverty of his imagination.

I don’t care how good their detection rate is.  I don’t care how many murders they solved.  It makes no difference to me how many people they caught after the fact.  Why can’t he figure that out?

I don’t care.

So they catch my murderer?  What good is that to me after I get a bullet in the head?  What use is it to all the victims of crime if Fachtna Murphy’s boys and girls found out who did it?

I don’t care who did it.  I don’t want it to happen in the first place, and when I heard Murphy going on with all this pious old shit I realised we’re in the wrong hands.

This is just another sad old Irish cop who fails to understand that reactive policing isn’t good enough.

We don’t want detection.  We want protection.

Did you ever hear such an out-of-touch old dinosaur trying to spin the failures of his management in a positive light?  Oh, wait a minute — did I say management?  Did I somehow contrive to use the word management for a police force that thinks raiding pubs will solve the country’s crime problems?

You probably don’t know what I mean, so I suppose I should tell you. Did you know that one of the central tenets of received wisdom within our police force is the following gem: control the bars and you control public order offences.

Now, the fact that this belief is entirely unsupported by empirical evidence doesn’t deter these geniuses from continuing to believe it.  Indeed not, and why would it?  After all, these old crusties who run our police force are cut from the same cloth as the venerable Fachtna Murphy.  Authoritarian, old-fashioned policemen from the DeValera age, who have all, without exception, failed to make the transition to the 21st century.

We do not have a modern police force in this country.  Let’s be clear about that.  We don’t have a police force in touch with technology, or strategic thinking, or professional management techniques.

What’s worse, we don’t have a police force in touch with the middle ground: you and me.  Our police force is far more comfortable alienating your support and mine by petty bullying, by raiding pubs, by being obnoxious to the middle-ground people like you and me, by swaggering around on a contemptible power trip, when it should be confronting real criminals.  Instead, our semi-detached police force thinks that people like you and me are the threat, and treats us as such, while psychotic, demented families have the freedom to do as they please.


Because our police force wants an easy life and finds itself far more comfortable bullying people who won’t fight back.  People like you and me.

The people who pay their wages.


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  41 Responses to “Garda Commissioner On The Radio”

Comments (41)

    As a friend of mine, a former member of the force, says “We have lots of Gardai, but, very few Policemen”.


    Too true. This is why I get nervous when I hear talk of arming the Gards. Even with tasers or pepper spray, or even with a cap gun. They are in dire need of a major overhaul in the way they operate. In their entire attitude.


    i might be assuming the role of “devils advocate” here and there are some truths in what you say bock, but i think we must be realistic, the commisioner has a role to play when he gives interviews to the media, because it is not only the law abiding people are listening, his role is to defend his forces while trying to assure the public, we cannot become privy to strategies the gardai may have to the “deal with criminals.
    i have to say it is very rare that i have encountered a gardai of the “bullying” or “power trip” variety you describe, but having said that, the law is the law and has to be enforced to the best of their ability as they encounter “law breakers”….you mention “after hours” in pubs etc, and in the light of what is occuring in limerick, a bit of “after hours” might seem petty, but the law is the law and it isn’t for us to decide what extent or colour of law breaking the gardai should deal with, they have to deal with all of it.
    the gardai might be under resourced and somewhat outmoded, but we as a nation were never prepared for the onslaught of criminality, not in our legislation or attitudes, i have faith in the gardai to a certain extent, i don’t think the constant berating of them on these sites will be of any help, if we really want change then we need to take our own criticisms on board ie (turn the ranting into someting more productive) and come up with constructive ways of approaching our governing bodies for answers, most people use these blogs to vent their feelings, which at this point seem very angry and fraustrated, but i’m a big believer in facts, and the facts are out there for anybody to research.
    The Gardai are making headway, seizing guns, making drug busts, its a tsunami of criminality, its a small country, they need our support not the constant criticism, or at least the criticism could be more constructive and that might benefit all of us


    I do agree that we can’t expect to have the law coloured or graded, but I do expect it to be with held across all communities.

    As I said before I was found in a pub at 3.30 a few weeks back, the two young gardaí spoke to everyone in the pub as if they were children and mentally impaired. The words ‘powertrip’ and ‘jumped up little c*nts’ sprang to mind.

    Now we have a new Seargeant who is maknig his name known as he has had most of the pubs in my town raided. Raiding pubs ans stopping cars is a lot safer than raiding houses and stopping vans mind you.


    Great post Bock. It’s akin to something I’d like to have written myself, only there’s no cuss words in it. I can’t think about Gardaí without using cuss words.


    Norma — Maybe I should have put my point more clearly. I think the Gardai fail to prioritise rationally. I think they choose the soft target because there is something wrong at the very heart of the Garda culture.

    In my opinion, they need to be fundamentally reformed.

    Just on a slight aside, could you clarify what you have in mind when you say “these sites”?


    I agree with you Bock that they take the easy option in going after ordinary folk for relatively trivial offences.

    When you say that we need protection, not detection, are you talking about zero tolerance? This I agree with. You come down hard on the youth who breaks a window, and he thinks twice about burning a car. Ignore the window, and every teenager in the area who sees it thinks its a green light to go out and burn a few cars. I’ve seen this psychology at work myself (on my own car some years ago). Our Gardai ignore everything up to murder and serious assault, excluding of course car tax and drinking after hours.

    However its important when we talk about zero tolerance to understand that we dont allow Gardai to impose their own police state type zero tolerance in the name of protection of citizens.


    That’s the problem.

    We need a tougher regime, but our police force can’t be trusted to exercise the power sensibly.


    You hit the nail on the head there, in the last paragraph. We need to take a good long look at the people we hand the power to. We could very easily end up stuck between two bunches of cunts.


    ok sakimoto, i do take on board what you say also i am not in the habit of making assumptions, but is it remotely possible that at 3.30 in the morning, in a pub one’s perceptions might just be a tad defensive? also gardai raiding a pub at that time may also exhibit an authorative attitude? is this not the precise attitude you are asking them to adopt when catching drug abusing criminals? maybe they are not as socially skilled as you might like, but the fact that there are laws for all of us is undeniable, they do raid houses and they do stop vans, why are you assuming that the attitude displayed to you is not also displayed to the people you want arrested and punished?
    in the real world, why would you expect a “kindly” gaurd to walk into a pub at 3.30 and say “lads its time to go home, i know you are all lovely law abiding people and i apologise for doing my job” could you take on board the possibility that raiding pubs is not seriously detracting from the time you want the gardai to allot to catching the criminals you want caught, the gardai should’nt have to waste their time raiding pubs, they are doing it because the pub owner is greedy enough to risk his licence by taking more of your money and you are hypocritical enough to give it to him, again, many shades of gray here to justify the end, if pubs closed at appointed time then gardai would not have to waste resources to raid them, is it the chicken or the egg?


    I have personally witnessed that sort of behaviour at midnight, in a pub full of law-abiding adults, who were bullied by a pair of Gardai barely out of their teens.

    There’s no excuse for being ill-mannered. It’s possible to be authoritative and polite at the same time.

    I have also witnessed that sort of behaviour in circumstances where no offence at all had taken place.

    As I said in a previous post, they’re actively losing hearts and minds.


    yes bock undeniably we require a tougher regime, but what precisly you mean by “prioritise rationally” is somewhat confusing, do you mean the gardai should overlook the “trivial offences” mentioned by essodee ? that somewhat contradicts the theory that if a youth was arrested for “breaking a car window” it might prevent him from “stealing a car”, where precisly do we draw a line? there cannot be laws for some “people” and other laws for “others” that is where the awareness and accountability comes in, if we constantly use the drug dealing criminals as our barometer of what we percieve as law enforcement, then that leaves the majority of the population as minor offenders, doesn’nt make sense on a “rational” basis.
    however i would totally agree with a “zero tolerance” not a police state, but the “zero tolerance” includes all of us.
    bock, what i mean by “these sites” is simply that “blogging sites” which are a wonderful means of expression in a safe environment, they are very insightful but somewhat lacking in constructive ideas which just might move us all forward if ideas and suggestions were shared more, rather than the majority sharing their fraustrations, but many thanks to you for presenting this forum and giving us all food for thought


    The trouble with life is that everyone has an agenda. The people that drink after hours in bars think cops victimise them, guys that drink drive ditto, no tax and insurance = the same. Of course our drug users and dealers feel they are victims of garda persecution also. Drug crime in Ireland is beyone resolution by the Gardai. Since the Veronica Guerin murder the gang leaders have become younger and more ruthless in their desire to control the drug industry. Drug gangs are hard to infiltrate and for the most part in Limerick are family based/ close knit friends. A billion Euro industry will not be dismantled by a few Guards kicking in doors and getting rough with known gang leaders. Actions like that result in the Guards themselves being targeted.
    I am not a policeman but feel it must be hard to try and uphold the law in this country. Apart from the myriad of people that claim civil rights infringments, the free legal aid for every scumbag in the system, the leniant jail sentences and the rotating door bail system, one wonders why any garda would bother. Criminals that carry out murder like the recent shooting of Shane in Limerick hide behind a wall of silence in their communities.
    Like every other profession, there are good guards and bad ones. My experience of the force has generaly been a positive one. The system at the moment is very reactive to crime and not at all proactive. In my opinion the only proactive way to prevent and stop future crime is through the CAB. Make every scumbag accountable for the mercs, bmw’s and audi’s they buy. If you cannot show where the money comes from then CAB must seize it. Prevent crime from being profitable and you turn future gang leaders away.


    I have no particular objection to the Gardai enforcing the law. Since they constantly remind us of their limited resources, it would seem obvious to me that they should allocate those resources to the areas that bring the most benefit to the community at large. However, it seems to me that the offences they pursue tend to be those committed by harmless citizens who are not the sort to cause them trouble.

    Furthermore, even when doing things that bring little or no benefit, such as raiding quiet pubs, it costs nothing to be courteous, and that’s where they’re losing public support.


    Stleger Norma, I can see the logic of your position – that zero tolerance means all laws apply to all of us, all the time, but you need to look at the context here. Gardai are applying zero tolerance to the easy marks, the bulk of us, for drinking late, or doing 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. This is done for revenue raising (fines) and statistics purposes (high number of convictions and fines looks good in glossy Garda report). Gardai are not applying zero tolerance to the window breakers, who grow up to be drug dealers, and now increasingly, murderers.

    The whole point of a zero tolerance policy is to prevent window breakers becoming drug dealers and murderers. People who stay late in a pub or people who use their mobile phone while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic (2 penalty points and €60 fine, thank you Cashel’s finest) are not going to turn into drug dealers if they get away with these relatively trivial offences. Given that there will never be enough resources to police us all, all of the time, you would think they would go after the important stuff. But no, much easier and safer to get the sitting ducks in the pub or on the motorway.



    1 crimes against the person
    2 firearms
    3 trafficking
    4 breaking bail restrictions
    5 perjury/intimidation of witnesses

    Mandatory and consecutive sentencing for all of the above. Prison = being unable to communicate with confederates on the outside.

    So, for what it’s worth I think the detective in the unmarked car who stopped the taxi I was in (which had just done a nimble if illegal u-turn), then pulled us over into a side street and took all the details, was wasting 20 mins of his and the taxpayers’ time.


    If he forced you to wait in the taxi, it was also false imprisonment.


    Perhaps it’s worth noting that annoying the general public brings in more money through fines than catching actual criminals. Actual criminals cost the government money in legal aid, prisons etc.
    It’s also good for bumping up the statistics.


    Stleger I do realise what i was doing was illegal, and do I expect a garda to be polite and professional while doing their job? Why yes I certainly do. They are not there to pass judgement on me they are there to enforce the law. My problem was not that they were doing this, it was the manner in which they conducted themselves.

    I don’t do the whole take one side of an argument and skew it thing, it’s coutnerproductive and only seeks to make either side look good at the others expense. It’s also one of the main reasons fuck all of merit happens in the dail.


    i will attempt to be concise.
    sakimoto, yes gardai should be professional, however, i think some human understanding of the pressure of their job, and the berating of the public who want protection, could add to this pressure and cause their skills to be compromised on occasion.Also, i am looking at both sides of the arguement, and we need to think beyond personal affront.
    bock false imprisionment would not hold if the person had the choice to leave taxi, however, you could argue the contract between taxi driver and passenger?? not worth it, i think but appreciate the dark humour.
    conan drumm. total agreement, MANDATORY should mean precisly that
    essodee agree, easy marks for revenue, but when we make the wrong choices knowingly and then find that choice means we contribute even more….no point taking it personally however unfair it seems
    pheasantfukker. full agreement, you are absolutly right.
    there is no moral high ground occupied by me, i am simply trying to apply human logic, i have no knowledge whatsoever on pubs…dont know their business hours, dont indulge in pub culture, dont like listening to pub philosophies etc etc, however great a place they may be to socialise and alter our states of consciousness, they are ultimatly a business, with prescribes times of operation, i am confounded that we willingly accept the business hours of shops, banks, doctors etc but feel that the occupation of a “public house” post prescribed times is our god given right……sorry don’t get it at all


    A long long time ago I drove to Belfast to buy some toys in Argos for my kids for Christmas. It was my first venture into the North since the start of the troubles and I was petrified, particularly about running into an RUC road block whilst driving a southern registered car. Inevitably, two miles beyond Newry, I came across said road block and was prepared for the worst. What I actually encountered was a polite, very professional, policeman who treated me with respect, addressed me as ‘sir’ at the same time as extracting all the relevant info, who I was, where I was coming from etc., as quickly as possible. Having passed the test I was waved on with the wish that I ‘had a nice day’. On the way back down I ran into a Garda checkpoint outside Drogheda. I was questioned by what could only be described as thick ignorant cunt and gruffly waved on when I proved that everything was in order. The difference in attitudes could not have been greater. I’m well aware that the RUC are well capable of being complete cunts but maybe they’re complete cunts when the situation calls for it whereas the Garda seem to treat everyone as a potential criminal. It must be the training and maybe this is where we need to start.


    Norma — Please try to see past the example I gave of pub opening hours. It’s only one example and I could think of many more ways in which the Gardai waste police time by applying their resources against soft targets.

    I also don’t think it’s too much to expect that Gardaí should be courteous when dealing with the public, regardless of whatever pressure they might sometimes find themselves under. Many jobs are far more stressful and far less lucrative.

    Joe — It starts in Templemore at the training college where they’re all cloistered together and indoctrinated into the belief that the general public is one seething mass of potential lawbreakers. It’s a very authoritarian atmosphere and it generates very authoritarian attitudes.

    Can you think of another force where the individual police are referred to as “members”?


    (Well, they’re not called a police force, anyway? They’re officially called the Guardians of the Peace. Presumably that’s where ‘member’ came from?)

    I’m a good old age now and have never been treated discourteously by a Garda. Ever. And our family has had recourse to them in regard to two break-ins –one by a deranged addict who was threatening violence. The Gardaí were helpful, sympathetic, and courteous. I appreciate that that may not be everyone’s experience, and I’ve heard of people being treated rudely but I’ve never seen it. (And no, we’re not filthy rich and VIPs either.)

    Rants are fine. But I tend to agree with “stleger norma” that “criticism could be more constructive and that might benefit all of us”.

    I think we need to talk about what exactly we want the Govm’t and the Gardaí to do — and how — instead of complaining all the time. Perhaps the Gardaí could make the ‘transition to the 21st century’ if they had more up to date equipment, for example? I don’t think they’re well-served in that regard. And as Conan Drumm says, more stringent sentencing. I’ve never understood this stupid “he was given 7 years but he’ll be out in 3” caper at all.

    And a total clamp-down on drugs getting into prisons. People are going in as non-addicts and coming out addicted. No help to anyone. And doesn’t up the likelihood of someone going ‘straight’ afterwards. Not by a long shot.

    But am I the only one that thinks that films, TV and video games have contributed to behaviour by (some of our) youth that would rarely, if ever, have been seen when I was young?

    By which I mean, gangs, drugs, knives, guns, and utter disrespect for any form of authority. The thought of Gardaí carrying pepper sprays, tasers, and even guns in my youth seems ludicrous. What’s changed? That’s the question. Rounding “them” all up and putting them in prison is NOT going to be a long-term answer. It’s far more fundamental than that.


    Nora — I think we need to have that debate. There seems to be a serious problem with the mindset their early training produces, but I’m open, as always to alternative views.

    On the use of the word “police”, that’s what they are, a police force, and that’s how they describe themselves in private.

    However, there’s something worryingly masonic about the nature of their organisation.


    “On the use of the word “police”, that’s what they are, a police force, and that’s how they describe themselves in private.”–Bock

    Ah sure, I know. Just semi-joking.

    But I forgot one thing which I think is important:

    Apparently psychologists are saying that ‘peer pressure’ counts for more with young folk nowadays than parental authority. Something major has changed — and I’d really like to get to the bottom of it. I have some ideas for a melting pot, but I don’t pretend to have the answers.


    @ nora

    I agree on equipment. I have listened for years to guards who are being attacked calling for backup on the radio for up to 15 minutes. I also wonder how many of them keep up morale in the face of penny pinching governments and the sort of sentencing you drew attention to.

    At the other end of the spectrum there is a spirit of unhealthy group solidarity in the air and in certain areas of the country (eg Donegal) they clearly got out of control. There is a need to establish a culture of oversight, whistleblowers, ombudsman etc. where they are as accountable as the rest of us to the public they serve.


    Well fair fucks to you Mr. Bock! You used the M word. Now that’s not a word we hear to often, even though one of it’s traditional recruiting grounds has always been army and police officers. Not to mention undergraduates of law and medicine. And oh how the pieces fit.
    I sorry but I’ve been told to stop boring everyone with the subject so many times (and no doubt risk it again) that I am positivly beaming with joy to see somebody else even suggest the merest possiblity of a connection. :)


    bock, to maybe move toward a more productive topic. re; nora and bock, i too wonder where it all comes from, just to-day a parent told me of his extensive worries regarding bullying of his child in school, now this bullying was very aggressive, these kids are 12, i had the same experience with one of my own, having failed to get even the remotest helpful response from the principle, board of management (who did not even reply to my letters) and dept of ed, i had to remove my child from that school, i accessed the appropriate channels, always stayed calm and asked for help…..nothing.
    i must admit here that i had an incident some years previous, prior to my self imposed political correctness, with an older child, and i approached the bully face to face, with the usual “if you ever go near my daughter again i will xxxx !!!!”””!!! etc etc, now the result was the direct approach got immediate results, no more bullying of any kind, with the younger one, she went through hell and had real confidence issues for a long time, she got night terrors and was constantly ill from stress and fear….ok shes great now and maybe stronger for it all.
    to-day i had no pearls of wisdom for this poor man because we no longer know what we are dealing with, we are in unchartered waters, do bullys beget bullys, the people we want to be protected from have their own protection, surrounded by like minded friends and relations brainwashed with hatred, but are extensions of these people in school with our kids? we can probably keep our kids safe from extensive vileness, but what kind of influences are steadily invading all aspects of our lives and where does it come from?


    I’d rather not shift topics if that’s all right with you. If you’d like a post on bullying, I’m sure we can manage that some time, but this one is about the police. However, since our police can often be bullies, I’ll just let that run for a while.


    Agreed about Donegal and “unhealthy group solidarity”, Benny.
    Reminds me somewhat of the medical profession …


    thanks bock, i’m not big into discussing personal experiences, because i am one for moving on and not carrying the past, but i had a particularly nasty experience with some corrupt people who happened to be members of the gardai, however, i choose to take it on and deal with it, i recieved great help and support from some very good people who happened to be members of the gardai, therefore i humbly offered my voice on the subject, i will continue to take a perspective gleaned from objectivity rather than any personal feelings.
    bock, i thank you for your great site which challenges us and makes share our many and various perspectives.
    bock i’m sure you will enjoy the match….we need hero’s and we are proud of all our rugby hero’s the living and the dead, long may they bring us exaltation


    Well said


    Well said bock. I also think that its about time our so called “Limerick joint police authority ” got a shoe up the arse.

    I read a statement from their self satisfies chairman , Councillor Kevin Kiely in this weeks Limerick Independent. He was boasting, yes boasting that in his role as chairman he had arranged for local politicians to talk with the Gardai every few months so that they could raise their “concerns”.

    “Every few months” ? I f******* ask you! They should be meeting every bloody day until the scumbags are sorted out. Is Councillor Kiely in touch with reality at all ?….does he think that his job is to have lunch and nice meetings with the Gardai and perhaps write them the odd letter ?

    Newflash to Councillor Kiely…..people are dying while you issue press releases and cosy up to the Gardai.

    This is part of the problem of course. We have out of touch, smug, self satisfied politicians who are not prepared to give the Gardai a shoe up the arse and make them do the work that they are well paid for.

    This cosy relationship between Limerick politicians and the Gardai must be replaced with a professional relationship that demands that the Gardai do their work.


    The role of local councillors is restricted to housing, roads, sewerage, water supplies and planning.

    They have no function whatever in policing, education or anything else they pretend to be involved with.


    But you’ll notice they always get they’re oars in anyway, just to let us know they’re still around, doing nothing.


    Not true, C’est la Craic.

    It’s wrong, wrong, wrong to say our Councillors are just pig ignorant, lazy bastards who develop stroke-like symptoms any time the weekly freerags fail to print at least one image of them parading about with a finger pointing at a wall/plaque/painting/badly composed grafitti, complete with stupid grin/mock concerned look and all the dress sense of someone who uses Ray Charles as their fashion advisor.

    Even now I’ll bet they’re furiously toiling at releasing Press Statements, being horrified at ‘tings’ and filling in Expenses Claims.


    So, uhh … any constructive suggestions?


    I didn’t say that, but I should have.


    Just a note regarding tough policing.I was in Manila in the Philippines two weeks ago at 8pm in the evening we heard shooting outside our hotel on going to the balcony we saw a car surrounded by police vehicles.The police were firing into the car.Anyhow to keep a long story short,it turned out the people in the car were a gang of car thieves.All 3 were killed.Likewise some weeks earlier a gang of twelve armed bank robbers were killed in similar circumstances.The police there while ruthless towards criminals are polite and respectful towards the general public.Something akin to wrinkley joes post on the RUC.Also I have found the Gendarme in France to be polite and helpful inspite of their tough reputation.I think it is only incompetent fat slob police forces who feel the need to go on a power trip with the general public.Presumably to make up for their lack of competence where it counts.


    Surely you mean Fucked up Murphy.
    As Murphys Law dictates : Anything that
    can go wrong will go wrong.
    Dermot Aherne has stated that he cannot
    change bail laws as he does not have
    sufficient cell space.
    Release all Debtors, Commitals on Road
    Traffic Fines, Shoplifters as they are usually Heroin Addicts feeding their habits.
    All of the above are crimes against property. A debtor is kept at state expense
    for his first 2 committals and at the Banks
    expense on his third committal. In my
    experience there is never a third committal
    at the Banks expense.
    This would free up space for Aherne to bring forward his Bail Reforms.
    This of course will never happen as crimes
    against Property always take precedence
    over crimes against the Person, a throw
    back to British Law.

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