Maurice McCabe persecution – frankly disgusting

There’s nothing new about the Garda attempts to destroy Maurice McCabe using false accusations of sexual abuse. Indeed, this technique is such a normal part of Garda procedures that they don’t even realise it might be wrong. And of course, due to the flawed recruitment structures of our national police force, all senior Gardai started out as junior Gardai, carrying with them throughout their careers the lessons they learned in their teens and twenties . Their attitudes were formed in the quasi-monastic environment of Templemore, their certainties were reinforced in the daily drudge of street-duty and the message they learned is a simple one: It’s Us against Them.

Since there has until recently been no induction from outside, there is no cleansing of the water. All the senior management are former grunts who paid their dues by pounding the beat. They all ate the doughnuts and they all had their hawks. Because nobody from outside has ever been appointed to lead the organisation, there has been no possibility of introducing a new vision, uncontaminated by the stale, cynical thinking of the past.

What are the chances, then, of a Garda Commissioner being shocked by some of the shadier practices ingrained in the force? Why would a Commissioner coming from this gene pool not consider it perfectly legitimate for members of the force to smear a perceived enemy with foul sexual slurs?

Some years ago, I was friendly with a Garda, and we shared many enjoyable jugs of ale together. He was a nice guy but with a tendency to be indiscreet, and he told with great glee the stories of how they searched the homes of suspects.

Well, you see, when we were going through the place, we’d bring a few filthy magazines and we’d just happen to find them while his wife was watching.

Any honest Garda will admit that this is the culture of the force.

Maurice McCabe broke the ultimate taboo of any police force anywhere. He violated the omerta that motivates all policemen, by being stupid and naive. Maurice McCabe just assumed that honesty, integrity and decency are essential elements of policing, and how wrong he was.

By exposing petty corruption concerning speeding tickets, he has been falsely smeared as a sex offender, described as disgusting by a Garda Commissioner and placed on a sex offenders register by another state agency.

Maurice McCabe’s problems started when he made a legitimate complaint that led to a colleague being disciplined.

Not long after that event, his colleague used his own young daughter as a pawn in a vindictive game to accuse McCabe of inappropriate behaviour. Even the gardai who submitted the report to the DPP confirmed that the complaint had little substance, while the DPP observed that the behaviour complained of was probably not even an offence in the first place. Otherwise, we’d all be in front of a court for chasing children in a birthday hide-and-seek game.

The complaint was dismissed out of hand and so it rested until an unnamed counsellor, we’re invited to believe, submitted a report to Tusla, the child protection agency, alleging that Maurice McCabe had raped a child.

Let it be said now that this complaint was entirely false.

The counsellor responsible for this false allegation later acknowledged that it was a mistake. An administrative error.

Somehow, a vicious allegation of the worst kind had been accidentally copied and pasted from another file into the file — of all people — of the same  man who stood in severe conflict with our national police force.

What are the chances?

What are the chances that a counsellor would have two documents open at the same time on a computer? One file would be that of a client sexually abused as a child, and the other would be an old file, long-closed and discredited. And yet, somehow, details of the most vile abuse are somehow copied and pasted into the document relating to a blameless man. Furthermore, the professional who made this clerical error failed to read over the final document and check its accuracy before transmitting it to the Gardai. What are the chances of that?

And if Brendan Howlin is to be believed in his statement to the Dáil, these horrible calumnies were being repeated by the incumbent Garda Commissioner even after their author had admitted they were false. If Brendan Howlin is to be believed, the current Commissioner was actively urging certain journalists to publish these lies.

There are many questions to be answered about this, among them the following.

First: how did Maurice McCabe’s closed file just happen to be on the counsellor’s computer when this accidental copy-and-paste took place?

Second: why did the counsellor send this information directly to Tusla instead of following established reporting procedures?

Third: why did Tusla not investigate these extremely serious allegations?

Fourth: why was there no Garda investigation of this alleged crime?

Fifth: why was Maurice McCabe not informed of this life-destroying allegation?

Sixth: on what authority did Tusla open files on the two children of Maurice McCabe who were adults at the time of the false allegation?

It’s about time the Gardai were examined in depth. It’s about time we asked ourselves if we have a police force fit for purpose. After all, how many police forces refer to their employees as Members?

Hard questions need to be asked about the relationship between an Garda Síochána and Tusla. Did somebody talk to somebody about Maurice McCabe?

These are not questions that can be answered by an insider. These questions need to be asked by somebody who has no connection to Irish affairs.

We are talking here about something fundamental to our society because this is all extremely sinister. What happens to Maurice McCabe today can happen to you and me tomorrow.  This is an attack on our democracy. Even seeking a benign interpretation of events, this looks sinister. There is no innocent interpretation of what has been done here.

If the government fails to address this attack on our democracy head-on, that government must collapse.



Previously on Bock

Guerin inquiry report on Garda handling of McCabe allegations

All Garda-related posts HERE


Fintan O’Toole on the McCabe scandal


government Politics

Trump to O’Reilly: “You think our country’s so innocent?”

Did I ever think I’d be agreeing with Trump about anything?

If Trump called me at midnight to tell me the time was twelve o’clock, I’d check my watch, my phone and my sundial, which admittedly wouldn’t be much use unless I lived in Norway, but besides all that, I’d still think he was lying.

If Trump said “hello”, I wouldn’t believe him.

If he offered me a bag of chocolate-covered George Washingtons, I’d waterboard them to find out the truth.

And yet, here he is answering Bill O’Reilly’s rather silly statement about Putin: But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.

Trump replies, There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think – our country’s so innocent?

Overlooking his lie that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning, Trump is right about this narrow point, though not for any benign reason.

O’Reilly seems to inhabit that peculiar netherworld where carpet-bombing civilians, murdering elected heads of state and blasting villages with drone strikes isn’t killing.  It’s a Disneyfied view, straight from the Lion King where the apex predators are benevolent, wise rulers who would never dream of killing anyone. Even though Trump is a thoroughly detestable, revolting individual, he inhabits a different fantasy land from O’Reilly, and this time he blurted out something which is nothing more or less than the truth.

Of course Putin is a killer, just as Tony Blair is. Just as Clinton is. Just as Bush is. Just as Obama is.

I agree with what Trump said, but that doesn’t give me cause for hope. It just means that he thinks killing is perfectly natural and he doesn’t see why anyone would object to it.

That’s why I’m simply irritated by O’Reilly’s self-righteous Disney version of America but terrified by the bleak, paranoid, Orwellian wasteland Trump conjures up from the dark corners of his mind. Or what passes for a mind in a man so unhinged.



Trump: number of days without craziness, zero.

Breitbart. The parasite that has taken over America’s brain.


government Politics

Trump: number of days without craziness, zero.

We need a new name for the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

After all, we can’t keep calling him That Idiot, That Clown or the Tangerine Tosser, but luckily Donald has provided the answer with his threat to invade Mexico.

Yes. That’s correct.


El Trumpo Grande is going to invade Mexico unless they deal with their, wait for it, bad hombres.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on that.

All right then. Let’s not pause. Instead, let’s reflect on a world dominated by such a self-absorbed, inadequate man.

Anyone who has been a parent will understand the early years of a baby. Anyone who has raised children will tell you what a horror it is to look after a helpless creature with no understanding of anything apart from its own immature needs and demands.

Well guess what. We’re all Trump’s parents as this seventy-year-old toddler screams and kicks its feet in the air unless it gets what it wants.

Trumples attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast, an event attended by every American president for the last forty years. 

Let us set aside for a moment our views about the National Prayer Breakfast.

Hush, I say to you. Stay your hand just this once. Say nothing. In America there is a thing they call the National Prayer Breakfast and let it be so. Just let it be. That’s America.

All presidents until now have delivered a sober and worthy address at the National Prayer Breakfast. All presidents, that is, apart from the Trumplet, who used the opportunity to boast about his Celebrity Apprentice ratings and to mock Arnie Schwarzenneger.

That’s how classy the 45th President of the United States is.

El Trumpo has also threatened to attack Iran and has hung up the phone on the Australian prime minister.

In other words, el Trumpo is behaving like some tequila-crazed pistolero on the El Paso borderline.

Send for the Federales quick, before this hombre loco shoots somebody.

government Politics war

Orlando murders reveal darkness at the heart of the American project

At least fifty people have lost their lives at the hands of a homophobic murderer in Orlando, Florida in the Pulse gay nightclub. The number of dead is likely to increase since many of those taken to hospital are described as critical, and many more will spend the rest of their lives with crippling injuries.

One might think that such a tragedy would evoke huge human empathy but apparently not.

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick,  tweeted as follows:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Do not be deceived:

God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he sows.

Galatians 6:7



Mr Patrick later deleted his tweet, explaining that it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding, but the Westboro Baptist Church was under no such illusions.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]God sent the shooter to the Orlando fag club![/dropshadowbox]


Still, with the WBC, at least you know what you’re getting, though not so much with Donald Trump, who immediately began tweeting, firstly with a cursory nod to the relatives of the victims and then with a full-blown chest-thumping congratulation of himself for warning about keeping Muslims out of the United States.

Now, it’s true that the killer, Omar Mateen, was a Muslim, but in much the same way Donald Trump is a Christian.

It’s also a fact that the killer was a US citizen, born and bred in the USA. But what’s even more undeniable is that, even though Omar Mateen was a private citizen and not a gang member or part of any political grouping, he was still able to purchase perfectly legally the sort of firepower that allowed him to massacre at least fifty people and maim as many more.

It’s also a fact that the murders took place in a state where anti-gay attitudes are deeply entrenched and where the State legislature has reluctantly rolled back its anti-gay laws only as a result of vigorous arm-twisting by the US Supreme Court. It’s a fact, furthermore, that these murders happened on the edge of the Bible Belt where fundamentalist Christians regard homosexuals as an abomination and where many people would hardly shed a tear at the killing of a gay man or woman. In addition, it’s a fact that these murders happened in a state where the gun laws are extremely lax.

Yet, despite all these things, cynics like Trump are getting away with the most outrageous conclusions.

According to Trump and his fellow travellers, the massacre didn’t happen because Orlando is in a state where gays are still a marginal community.

The massacre didn’t happen because rednecks would as soon string up a gay person as a black.

The massacre wasn’t facilitated by the fact that every random lunatic can buy an assault rifle.

The massacre didn’t happen due to extreme religious prejudice, or at least, not the sort of extreme religious prejudice we approve of.

No. The massacre occurred because of the other extreme religious prejudice. The sort we don’t approve of.

It makes no difference that both sorts of extreme religious prejudice come from the same book, the same band of wandering, murderous ignorant sheep herders and yet, as it turns out, the killer wasn’t even very religious, according to his ex-wife. In fact, he was just your average non-religious controlling wife-beating scumbag.

Or to put it another way, he was just another prejudiced anti-gay chest-thumping redneck.

Of course, that wouldn’t suit the agenda of Trump and his associates, so instead Omar Mateen has to be painted as a follower of ISIS who, of course, were more than happy to claim his actions as their own.

Normally in America (and how sad it is that anyone would be able to use the word normally but such is the state of things in that country) when a madman kills a large number of people, the authorities investigate and conclude in the end that the mass murder was committed by an unhinged person or in exceptional circumstances like Oklahoma, a domestic terrorist.

I have yet to hear of an American mass murder where a killer was described as a Catholic extremist or a Protestant extremist or a Shinto extremist and yet, somehow, when the killer has the remotest connection to a Muslim country, he can’t simply be a homicidal maniac like any normal Christian. The explanation has to lie in his religion, or in the religion of his parents or in the religion of someone he was descended from a thousand years ago, because that’s how Americans have been led to view the world: through a lens that allows only for good guys and bad guys, with the current bad guys being Muslims. One quarter of the world’s population, including the late Muhammad Ali.

Japanese-American people will understand this sort of thinking very well indeed since they were all imprisoned for the duration of World War 2 purely on the basis of their non-European features, in horrible concentration camps like Manzanar. Meanwhile, people with European faces suffered no such imprisonment, even though they bore the names of the arch-enemies. No German-Americans were imprisoned. No Italian-Americans were put in concentration camps. No Hungarian-Americans. No Croatian-Americans.

Indeed, a man with an Americanized German name, Eisenhower, was made Supreme Allied Commander and later became President. It’s hard to imagine, even today, a President Hashimoto or Katsumata.

It’s also hard to avoid the conclusion that despite the great talk about separation of church and state, America is, and has always been in its essence a European Christian project, conceived in an act of genocide and maintained in a huge act of continuing global warfare without end.

You’d have to conclude that in situations like this, Trump and ISIS are best buddies. A coincidence of interests, so to speak, between two equally unscrupulous political enterprises.

A very dangerous confederation of criminals and possibly one that could lead to another world war.



Hillsborough inquiry exposes Masonic undercurrent in British emergency services

What do the Hillsborough disaster, the Toxteth riots and the Battle of Orgreave have in common?

Wait!  Before answering that, let’s just remind ourselves what they are.

The Hillsborough disaster was an event in 1989 when ninety-six people from Liverpool were unlawfully killed by the South Yorkshire police. That same police force subsequently smeared the victims and systematically lied about their actions in order to present an entirely untrue version of what really occurred.

The Toxteth riots broke out in Liverpool in 1981 at a time when heavy-handed policing had utterly alienated the black community of that city. During the riots, Merseyside police used CS gas for the first time outside Northern Ireland to quell civil revolt.

Battle of OrgreaveThe Battle of Orgreave happened in 1984 when police attacked protesting miners in South Yorkshire. The subsequent prosecutions all collapsed and the police were forced to pay a half million pounds in compensation for assaulting their victims.

What do these three incidents have in common?

The answer is this: one man, Peter Wright who was Chief Constable of South Yorkshire during the Hillsborough mass killing and the Orgreave attacks, and Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside police during the Toxteth riots.

Of course, nobody will suggest that Peter Wright was single-handedly to blame for all these disasters, but he was certainly responsible, as the man in charge of the force, for the unlawful killing of the Hillsborough victims, even though David Duckenfield was of course responsible for what happened at the Sheffield Wednesday ground on the day of the disaster. Wright was also answerable for his officers attacking the Orgreave miners, though his role in Liverpool is less clear, but the point is more nuanced than simply apportioning blame.

Peter Wright was a member of the brotherhood who control police, fire and ambulance services in Britain. He would never have reached that level of adeptness had he not been welcomed into the inner circles and therefore he represents all who stood in his place during those dark times.

Britain has a multiplicity of forces — police, fire and ambulance — all with a similar quasi-military structure. Members of those forces are big on saluting, marching and standing to attention. They have a strong uniform fetish and they all draw their traditions from one branch or another of the armed forces. The fire services, for instance, pride themselves on their naval origins. Furthermore, they are all independent fiefdoms, much like medieval lordships, and are all headed by a feudal lord called a Chief Constable, a Chief Fire Officer or a Chief Ambulance Officer.

It’s an astonishingly rigid tribal system, deeply resistant to dissent and with a rigid disciplinary structure, much like orders of knights, even though the United Kingdom presents itself as a modern democracy.

Just as advancement in the old RUC or the Northern Ireland Fire Service was impossible without being a member of the Orange Order, it has been an open secret in Britain for generations that nobody can advance beyond a given level of seniority in the police, the fire service or the ambulance service without being a member of the Freemasons. This is taken as a certainty by everyone within these organisations, and furthermore, has been welcomed by aspiring members, because joining any of the UK’s emergency services has been seen as a passport to prosperity and in many cases an escape from the drab impoverishment of working-class life in Britain.

Therefore, who could blame the average working-class cop in Toxteth, in Hillsborough or in Orgreave for wielding a baton against the man he grew up next door to? That’s how feudal societies work.

Who could blame the recently-deposed Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, David Crompton, for feeling aggrieved when all he did was defend to the hilt his band of brothers in the face of the facts? What tribal chieftain would do any less? What warlord would not go before some upstart Star Chamber and face down its impertinent accusations?

David Crompton must be sitting in his magnificent home today wondering what on earth he did wrong.

To the average observer standing back and looking at British society, the feudal element is obvious, though of course we Irish aren’t qualified to point fingers, given the feudal elements exposed in our own society by the economic crash and the history leading up to it.

But nevertheless, we can reflect on the dangers of having a police force and emergency services whose leaders are in thrall to a secret organisation and perhaps apply the lessons to our own society.


David Duckenfield and the Freemasons

Masons colluded, Hillsborough court told

Freemasons in the police leading the attack on David Cameron’s riot response





Time to enjoy the election count blood-letting

Tomorrow the election count begins and we can all settle in with a bag of nachos and a slab of our favourite brew to watch the slaughter. Some of us might even make for the count centres with our knitting needles and sit at the front cackling through our toothless flapping lips as the heads roll into the basket, one by wide-eyed, gasping one.

What a shame it would have been to deny the Irish populace their only hope for glee in our drab political timescape. Only a man with no soul could fail to comprehend our attachment to The Count, and that man of course was Bertie Ahern, the visionary who dismissed so casually the old peann luaidhe as he defended his disastrous e-voting machines. Those same machines are now landfill somewhere, having cost us not only a load of money but also our national dignity while the mighty peann luaidhe lives on, as well it should.

Do you remember Nora Owen’s face in 2002 as the returning officer said something along these lines : You, you, you and you are elected. The rest can fuck off.

Or words to that effect.

Not only was Nora Owen shocked at being summarily kicked out, but so was everyone else, apart from the technological visionary Bertie Ahern, the Bill Gates Ireland could have had if only Bertie hadn’t dedicated himself to selfless public service.

How could we enjoy the election if we weren’t able to savour the extended, agonising humiliation of the candidates? It’s the only time in five years we get to see some of these people suffer before they retreat into their cosseted parliamentary bubble and here was Bertie telling us to push the electronic button and go home. Good luck with that, Bertie.

We weren’t having it, and neither were certain technology experts who pointed out the flaws in the machines. Flaws that Bertie the visionary somehow failed to appreciate. Flaws that meant we couldn’t be sure if anyone had tampered with the vote. Trivial, old-fashioned concerns about democracy that would never trouble men such as Bertie the technology expert.

Anyway, as I said, the e-voting gadgets are now history, converted back to the cheap poker machines they started life as and sold to a string of pubs in Belarus where they fit in very well.

Meanwhile in Ireland we’re back to the blood sport we all love so much. The drawn-out tortured count as one election hopeful after another suffers a crushing rejection by the public and some of the star performers are kicked into the gutter while other equally worthless clowns are elevated to our national parliament.

It’s great.

Its also the only time you will ever hear a politician being honest, because there’s nothing to be gained from lying. Only during a count could you hear politicians, down to and including Charlie Haughey, admitting that they weren’t doing well, that they were in trouble, that they’d made mistakes. That in itself was sufficient reason for keeping the pencil and paper and I hope we always stick with the system because it’s plain, it’s direct and it does what it says, unlike Sir Bertie the Technological.

I’ll be watching the count with a bottle of Wild Turkey and a Colt .44 Magnum, sitting in a swing chair on the verandah. Maybe with a pint of ether or a bag of ‘ludes but definitely not naked, given the current weather.

The tyres will be pumped up to 150 psi. The Samoan attorney will be asleep in the bath. Leathery winged creatures will be flapping in the sky.

Every bullet hole in the TV screen will be living testament to the vigour of our democracy.

It’s count time.

Bring it on!


Environment Local government

George Redmond — the corrupt administrator who destroyed Dublin’s built heritage

Let’s be honest with ourselves about George Redmond, the former Assistant City Manager of Dublin, who died recently at the age of 92.

George was a crook and we all knew it. Everyone in Dublin Corporation knew it. The Planning Tribunal knew it. Every journalist in Ireland knew it. But most of all, the developers knew it, and like the hyenas they were, they took full advantage of George’s greed to destroy Dublin and make themselves a fortune in the process.

George was a crony of every double-dealer from Matt Gallagher to Tom Roche. He was a pal of all those ignorant, aggressive, uneducated but brutal men who systematically raped this country in the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties.  A crony of rotten public representatives like Liam Lawlor. Enemies of the State, every one of them. Terrorists in their own brash, mohair-suited way. As destructive to our way of life as TB or mass emigration.

The vectors of poverty writ large in the shape of clown-faced men with stripy suits, red noses and no soul.

George RedmondThese were the men (and they were all men) who demolished Georgian Dublin under the benign oversight of successive philistine governments that viewed such buildings as the work of the hated English and who turned a blind eye, occluded all the more by a hefty wad of cash inserted in the way thanks to developers who cared nothing for history, craftsmanship or common decency.

And thus it was that over the years, George facilitated these cynics to drain a fine city of its architectural heritage in the name of the overarching principle that had defined his whole life: money. Thus it was that George not only allowed, but caused his native city to fall into decay in the name of private, venal profit: his own and that of the people who paid him.

According to the Planning Tribunal, George Redmond was receiving the equivalent value of a substantial house every year from corrupt payments. Let’s call it a million a year but what did George do with all this money?

Did he splurge in Las Vegas? No. Of course he didn’t. Don’t be silly.

Did he go crazy on cocaine and hookers? Absolutely not.

Did he, perhaps, buy himself a nice car, something extravagant and gangster-like? A Ford Focus, maybe. Or a Golf? No he did not because George was both too limited and too mean.

Contrary to popular belief, George Redmond wasn’t a professional planner, even though he controlled the planning department. In fact he had no professional training at all. He started as a clerk, a small man with a sharp mind who sneaked his way into a position of power but didn’t understand what to do with it apart from collecting bank-notes.

George, you see, was a miser.

George took all the money from the dodgy builders like Matt Gallagher and Tom Roche, and he hid it in his bathroom, in great thick wads of cash, while walking in and out of Dublin to his job because he was too stingy to pay for a bus or a train. Years later, when he found himself in front of the Planning Tribunal, this man who had hundreds of thousands stashed under his bath complained bitterly because a judge wouldn’t adjourn long enough to let him walk home for his lunch, thus forcing him to pay for a sandwich in the local deli.

George once boasted that he was Dublin Corporation, and when it came to planning matters, perhaps he was. He certainly collected most of the planning fees, but his boast points a spotlight on the various men who were his bosses during his career. It’s true that George had the delegated planning function but ultimately he also had many city managers to whom he theoretically answered. Did none of them ask what was going on, and if not, why not? Was it not plain to them, and to everyone who worked for him, that George was utterly corrupt? Why, for example, didn’t Frank Feely ask himself what was going on?

Nobody has put this question to the previous City Managers George worked for, and perhaps now it’s too late. Perhaps now we’ll never know why not one of them raised the issue, though the question is perplexing. Why one earth didn’t even a single City Manager wonder what George was up to?

Given the appalling treatment of whistleblowers in Ireland right up to the present day, perhaps we can forgive those who worked under him, even though they all knew that the department they were working in was hopelessly compromised, but what of the others?  Why was it that not one of them asked hard questions, given the fact that Dublin was being destroyed in front of their eyes?

Why did no politician ask what was going on?

Why did no architect publicly point the finger? No engineer?

Why did the RIAI and the IEI remain silent as George Redmond and his accomplices systematically destroyed the built heritage of Dublin for the sake of a few shillings?

Nobody liked to see an 80-year-old man being sent to jail in 2003 for accepting bribes. Nobody wants to punish the elderly because we’re hard-wired to feel protective towards anyone radiating kindly old grandad signals, and that’s why we didn’t feel too comfortable about George Redmond hitting the slammer for corruption, even if we were wondering why exactly he was arrested carrying £300,000 in a suitcase coming back through Dublin Airport after an Isle of Man bank refused to accept the cash.

Who knows? Maybe he just made wise investments with his old-age pension. Maybe he won it on a horse, like other prominent figures of our time.

No. George was a crook, and we all know it.

Imagine what Dublin would look like today if its planning policy had been controlled by someone with a sense of decency instead of a venal, dishonest miser.

And while we’re at it, let’s not overlook the activities of corrupt administrators closer to home, whose activities might well mirror those of George Redmond. Watch this space.


Political corruption in Ireland





Dublin gang wars — the result of a deeply unequal society


Is it fair to blame the Gardai for failing to prevent the two recent gang murders in Dublin?

There was a time when I would have said Yes, but that was then and this is now. The fact is that the Gardai are very much a product of Irish society and let’s be honest with ourselves about this: we Irish tend to take a rather ad-hoc, bumbling, see-how-it-goes approach to things. If you don’t believe me, just look at our health service.

Compared to many police forces, the Guards continue to retain the confidence of the public at large, a public that in many ways tends to enjoy their occasional displays of amateurism and provincialism, such as the recent ludicrous prosecution of a Kerry publican for doing very little. It’s true, they can be infuriating and they can be ignorant. Some of them are overbearing, some are looking out for every extra penny they can scrape and some are just downright thugs. But most are ordinary-enough individuals once you get past the monastic sense of being a closed cabal that was instilled in them during their time at Templemore. The Guards will be all right once we eradicate the word Member from their vocabulary.

It could be worse. Some years back, before a trip to Latvia, I was warned not to approach any policeman on any account, because he would use it as an excuse to arrest me and shake me down for money. When the Czech Republic joined the European Union, Irish people assigned to Prague were astonished by the blatant venality of the local cops. You don’t get in the way of a French riot policeman, because if you do, he will break your skull open just for being there in front of him. You don’t, under any circumstances, make an unusual gesture to an American cop, in case he shoots you dead.

Our cops, for the most part, are not like that, and even when they are, it’s in a bumbling, ham-fisted, ticket-fixing kind of way.

On the other hand, they’re very good indeed at sniffing out information thanks to their grounding in local communities, a skill that served them well in the early days of the State, and later when the Troubles were at their height. Nothing moved without the guards knowing about it, which is why they were far more effective against the Provos than their colleagues in the RUC who had no roots in the communities they were policing.

But the guards are essentially a middle-class organisation in a very Irish sort of way. I recently had to visit a police station to get my passport renewal signed and the young Guard I spoke to barely glanced at me or at the photos I presented to him, because it was obvious to anyone that we were of the same tribe. I wasn’t what the Guards call a gouger. I didn’t speak like one, I didn’t dress like one and I didn’t have the body language of one. We shared a few words about Paul O Connell’s retirement from rugby. He asked if I needed the passport for a match and I said Maybe, if I can find the money.

We laughed in the polite way that strangers do and he said Have a nice day.

You too, I told him.

I was clearly a person who only encounters a policeman if I’ve been driving too fast, if I’ve been robbed or if I need a passport form stamped. Somebody just like his own family and friends.

I was of his tribe.

A friend of mine used to work for a company that maintained the IT equipment in Garda stations. He was the quintessential Tech Guy, and he made it a point of honour when visiting a station never to explain who he was or why he was there. Instead, he simply waved his toolbox at the policeman or woman at the desk, pointed to the security door and he was always buzzed through without a challenge.


Because he was clearly of their tribe.

Because that’s Ireland and that’s what makes us so flexible.

Unfortunately, however, it’s also our weakness now that we’re dealing with a class of criminal that has nothing at all in common with the people from whom our police force springs. These gangs are not the middle-class rural Provisionals of the 70s. They didn’t grow up next to the family of the cop who’s watching them. Many came from the bleak urban wastelands ordained by the blinkered housing policies first enunciated in the 1930s. They came from estates and blocks of flats that no policeman ever lived in. They sprang from a nihilistic ethos, a sterile vision, a place devoid of soul. Something far worse than a ghetto.

Of course, this is not to damn everyone who came from the areas where the criminals grew up. Most people are decent enough and just want to get on with their lives. In the case of Christy Kinahan, one of the major protagonists in the latest feud, his family were all high achievers, well-respected, well-read people, some of whom went on to achieve prominence in public life. Including, paradoxically, Christy Kinahan himself.

But even though this gang leader might well be a cultured, if ruthless, man he still comes from St Teresa’s Gardens, a place where no policeman grew up. Ever.

And that’s where Garda intelligence is failing: a junkie will tell you anything you want to hear as long as you pay him. The Gardai need good people on the ground and that means living among the people.

I’m not saying there’s a simple answer to this problem, but unless we make a start, there will be no progress and incidents like the Regency Hotel attack will continue to occur. It’s bigger than a policing issue. It’s a societal issue and sadly there seems to be little understanding among politicians that we live in a fractured society where many people feel no loyalty at all to our little republic.

How do we fix it? I genuinely don’t know, but I do know this: we need to start changing the deeply unequal society that Ireland is in 2016, a full century after the Rising. We as a society need to confront those criminals who might as well be foreign terrorists attacking us, but then we need to tackle the reasons for their existence.


Gardai smash notorious Early Bird Gang in Tralee pub raid

Crime, as we all know, has run rampant in Ireland in recent years.

No longer the sleepy backwater it used to be, this country is now a home for killers, robbers and worse. Big-Tom listeners, goose-booers, heron stranglers.  Boy-band managers. Bamboozlers.

The Real IRA. The Surreal IRA. The Unreal IRA. The Paranormal IRA, The Homeopathic IRA, the Ayurvedic IRA.


We have marauding gangs using the motorway system to roam the countryside in high-powered cars, terrorising rural dwellers. And violent crime in Dublin has made O’Connell Street virtually a no-go area at night. We have weekly shootings, we have sexual assaults and we have a massive hard drug problem, not to mention the gigantic white-collar crime that brought the country to the brink of extinction.

But none of these come close to the depravity of the most feared and dangerous criminals this island has ever faced and no, I’m not talking about those desperadoes Yeats warned of, the freckled men who go to a grey place on a hill in grey Connemara clothes at dawn to cast their flies. Such men might be evil but they are nothing compared to an even more dangerous class of criminal.

I speak of course, of those men who enjoy a quiet pint and a bit of a chat outside official licensing hours. If we can only get on top of this particularly nasty crime, everything else will fall into place, which is why the Gardai, since their foundation, have devoted all their resources to tackling this form of criminality.

Who could forget the heroic Garda who visited the Aran Islands posing as a backpacker and who went to his tent when the pub was supposed to close, got into his uniform and returned to bust everyone on the premises? A true hero for old Ireland, keeping the crime-ridden mean streets of Aran safe for godfearing folk like you and me.

I remember how the Gardai looked after my own moral well-being one night some years back when they raided a local pub just past midnight on a Tuesday and waited until the six customers including two frail old men had left. Imagine the mayhem on the streets if they hadn’t ejected us from Crime Central.

There has always been a doctrine within the Gardai, going all the way back to the puritanical men who set up the force, that in order to control the streets it’s necessary to control the pubs. The logic has never been tested but it’s necessary to repeat the orthodoxy if you want to get promotion in the force and we can only presume that’s what the gardai in Tralee had in mind when they raided Turner’s Bar.

turners bar tralee

Barely escaping with their lives, after a savage struggle they managed to detain one vicious criminal having a pint and three men waiting for a bus. It was a close-run thing but the highly-trained SWAT team somehow got the situation under control without needing to call in helicopters, dog-handlers or snipers. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the ruthless criminals threatened the gardai with a pack of cards and a newspaper open to the racing page.

The problem, you see was that one man was having a quiet pint and a bit of a chat at an unauthorised hour, while the others were physically standing in the premises,  and we all know what that could lead to if it got out of hand. It was a Sunday, you see, when the pubs can’t open until 12:30pm, but the criminal mastermind behind the vicious Early Bird Gang was drinking a pint at only 10.10 am.

I know. You’re probably as shocked as I am. In fact, I imagine the whole of Ireland is shocked. The Gardai in particular, whose members would never dream of having an illicit drink out of hours were probably the most shocked of all, with reports coming from Tralee of emergency trauma counselling being offered to the police who carried out the raid. Needless to say, no judge in history has ever demanded a pint after closing time, so I won’t even mention how horrified the judiciary were to hear of this crime which can only be called an atrocity.

It’s appalling. A man drinking a pint at just after 10am on a Sunday morning. It would even be shocking from Monday to Saturday when he’d be a full twenty minutes early, but to be consuming a quiet pint on the Sabbath is probably on a par with anything ISIS might do.

Can’t be too careful. Next thing you know, they might start playing chess or discussing current events.

Isn’t it lucky we have such a diligent police force with its eye fixed firmly on the real issues? A less professional outfit might waste its scarce resources on trivial matters that have nothing to do with crime.




Fighting crime – Irish style

Good Friday pub licence granted in Limerick





“Where’s your neck-tie?” judge asks architect in Limerick Circuit Court

Limerick circuit court neck-tie dress codeIt’s lucky for the Greek prime minister that he’ll probably never have to give evidence  in Limerick Circuit Court.  Judge James O’Donohue doesn’t tolerate men without neckties in his court, as architect Noel Kerley found to his embarrassment when he turned up to give evidence about a pub refurbishment.

Where’s your neck-tie? demanded the judge.

I haven’t got one, Mr Kerley responded, perhaps reasonably assuming that a man in a Victorian gown and a wig would be well versed in professional dress-codes. As everyone knows, architects simply do not wear neck-ties.  They can’t. It’s impossible. How can you patronise your fellow professionals if you’re dressed the same as them?

The closest they get to that sort of thing is the bow-tie, but even that’s reserved for the most flamboyant, theatrical luvvies of the species and it must always be accompanied by a floppy walrus moustache.

But Judge O’Donohue was having none of it.

This isn’t Ryanair, he quipped, or words to that effect. (Laughter in court).

Mr Kerley had no option but to exit the witness stand in an unseemly flurry of apologies, and go in search of a traditional Victorian item of clothing that he would never normally wear. As far as I know, the Circuit Court in Limerick doesn’t have a tie-shop but somehow he returned within minutes wearing a fetching navy tie with red and white diagonal stripes, as Jimmy Woulfe described it in De Paper.

I can’t see you is the traditional way for a judge to tell a barrister that he has turned up in court improperly attired, but at least the rules of dress for members of the profession are clearly laid down in law even if the prescribed dress is rooted in the seventeenth century. However, there are no corresponding rules for witnesses and indeed it isn’t immediately obvious how a witness’s credibility or veracity is enhanced by hanging a thin strip of fabric from his chin to his belly-button. Oddly, female witnesses are presumed to be credible without the chin-to-belly-button strip or indeed any other sartorial embellishment.

If only Mr Kerley had an enormous multi-coloured floral bow-tie in his pocket (as architects often do) he could have pulled it on there and then, allowing the learned jurist to see him. In future, he might even consider wearing a discreet inflatable neck-tie that he could pump up in court using a small compressed-air canister the size of a cigarette lighter. I think this would be a very valuable addition to any architect’s briefcase.

Thus placated, the eminent jurist listened to his evidence that the pub was extended and duly issued an order extending the licence to the newly-expanded area.  Lawyers and architects watching all over the world relaxed, loosening their gowns and their inflatable bow ties. Crisis averted, muttered the US Chief Justice with a weary rub of his forehead. For now!

There was once a similar dress rule in our national parliament. Elected members were refused entry to the chamber unless they also hung a thin strip of fabric from their chin, but only if they were men. They also had to wear a jacket, but not just any old jacket. It had to have a collar, which meant that anyone wearing the traditional Irish báinín style was excluded from the Irish parliament.

Thankfully, those antiquated rules seem to have been abandoned in favour of democracy. Perhaps in time they’ll also be abandoned in favour of justice.

In other news, a Circuit Court judge by the name of James O’Donohue was convicted and fined €600 in 2012 for failing to provide a breath sample but that was probably a different man.