Garda Meltdown Is Only A Symptom of a Deeper Irish Problem

Are you as baffled as I am by all this stuff about who knew what and when, who first called and what letters went to what ministers?

Normally, when I find myself completely stumped, there’s a good reason and yes, I know what you’re going to say: that could be because I’m completely stupid.  It could indeed, or it could be because the whole thing is bullshit.

Why does it matter what Callinan told Shatter or what Kenny kept to himself?  What difference does it make when Máire Whelan knew about the taping of prisoners’ phone conversations in police stations? How does it help if Shatter resigns?

Our national police force, An Garda Síochána, is shown to be utterly dysfunctional, yet people are still arguing about personalities, as if that made the slightest difference.  In the 21st century, we struggle with a policing structure that owes its origins to the early 19th century, a rigid, authoritarian edifice in which dissent is discouraged and original thinking considered subversive.

Is it any wonder that rigid, authoritarian people would rise to the top of such an organisation?

And yet, An Garda Síochána is only a microcosm of Ireland as a whole, a product of our educational system, our social structures and our national inability to admit we might ever be mistaken.  When the latest OECD international survey shows that Irish teenagers are no better than average at problem-solving, we need to start asking ourselves what has gone wrong, not only with our national police force, but with the entire country.

Unless we can teach our children critical thinking at a very early age, we’re doomed to repeat the cycles of incompetent disaster that have characterised our new nation.  The days of accepting rigid beliefs and repeating them by rote are over.  The days when we think there’s some shame in being wrong are over.

Successful people rejoice in being wrong because it makes them stronger the next time, but here in Ireland, we have a fear drummed into us, the fear of originality.  The fear of admitting we made a mistake.

The ability to acknowledge mistakes without recrimination is what has made some countries and some corporations extremely  powerful.  It means that individuals aren’t afraid of taking a chance, because nobody will blame them if they were wrong.

Unless we learn this sort of thinking, we have no hope.  Unless we rebuild institutions like An Garda Síochána from the ground up, we’re condemned to repeat forever Flann O’Brien’s recurring, prophetic nightmare of The Third Policeman.


Critical thinking in Ireland

Reinventing Ireland


9 replies on “Garda Meltdown Is Only A Symptom of a Deeper Irish Problem”

Get real Bock. You say “Is it any wonder that rigid, authoritarian people would rise to the top of such an organisation?”. Rigid authoritarians rise to the top in any and every organisation. You are hardly an exemplar of the old critical thinking thing. That’s pretty obvious in your choice of chorizo if your photos are anything to go by.

True, that is an extremely poor quality chorizo, looked like like something only a brother in law would eat.

“I do not have a monopoly of wisdom; none of us have a monopoly of wisdom,’’

Alan Shatter, in the Dail, on April Fools Day.

No more to be said…..

(in fact there is even an error in the grammar…. it should say “…none of us has…..” which proves his point even more….

Tonyc, when you’ve finished with your self-appointed role correcting my language, maybe you have some thoughts on the actual content?

Lighten up Bock,you’re beginning to take yourself far too seriously,you’re in danger of becoming an upmarket version of Cap’n P.M. Regarding the content,I agree wholeheartedly with your every word.

This temporary Garda Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan intrigued me today with her thoughts on the whistleblowers scandal. She said that she thought it was “unfortunate” that Martin Callinan referred to Maurice McCabe and John Wilson as disgusting. What a strange comment. To me “unfortunate” is stepping on dog shit while on a walk in the park or missing out on last orders in the local bar. This was her chance to speak up and say that these men deserved to be treated better, to be spoken of more respectfully by Garda management and above all to have their concerns listened to and addressed. Then again as I’ve said before, Management are all cut from the same cloth and Noirin isn’t any different. It was a great chance to start afresh but alas it wasn’t to be….

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