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