Policing Scandal

Andrew Hanlon. Gunned Down By An American Cop

This is the Irish kid an Oregon cop riddled with bullets.  His name was Andrew Hanlon, and he was a 20-year-old artist.  He was also psychologically vulnerable and had overstayed his visa in the US.

No other firearm was found at the scene where Officer Tony Gonzales shot him seven times, and now the small-town police force is closing ranks against Andrew’s family.  Closing them out.  Refusing to comment.  Refusing to tell them what became of their boy.  Waiting for the trail to go cold.

The cover-up has started.

AJ’s sister and father were allowed to see the body and noted that he had two bullet holes in his arm, three in his abdomen, one in his thigh and one between his shoulder blades.

Andrew was shot in the back.

The police are closing ranks. Although a force from a nearby town is investigating, it appears that these people have considerable sympathy for Gonzales.  They’re also ill-equipped to deal with the case.  Silverton calls itself a city, but is in fact a small settlement of 7,000 people, and the police in this part of the US are not exactly at the cutting edge of investigative skill, even if they had the motivation to thoroughly investigate a fellow oficer.  As the Hanlons’ lawyer said, It’s a fraternity.

It might be more of a fraternity than we realise.  The city authorities are closing ranks, it seems. Having removed a memorial to Andrew, they then destroyed the various artworks and photos made for him by his friends.

As if that wasn’t enough, the medical examiner refused to give a copy of the autopsy report to the family, who will have to wait six weeks for information about the causes of his death.  That’s three weeks after the Grand Jury hearing.  As one correspondent put it, the report will be like an old dead herring left in unplugged refrigerator.

It seems that more than the police are closing ranks.  This looks sinister, and to my eyes, would appear to warrant a Federal investigation.  What is going on in Silverton?  What sort of place is this, where town officials, police force and the medical examiner all seem to be acting with a common purpose?

There’s a worrying hint of Silverton’s intolerant side on this Barack Obama site, of all places.

Meanwhile, Andrew’s mother can’t afford the journey to Silverton, Oregon, or the transport costs to bring her dead son home.  No way to say goodbye.

Be angry at this.  It’s a disgrace.


UPDATE:  Friends of AJ are starting to leave comments here.  If anybody wants to tell their story about their friendship with him, or if you want to tell the world about the person he is, I’ll be happy to include it as part of this post.


UPDATE 13th July 2008

The individual who killed AJ is Tony Gonzales, a 35-year-old 240-pound former Marine, martial arts expert and cage fighter.

Gonzales has today been taken into custody on accusations of sexually abusing a minor.  Tony Gonzales is being held on allegations of two charges of first-degree sexual abuse and three of third-degree sexual abuse.

I’m happy to go with the Egan family’s description of this man in the comment section:

A power hungry, trigger-happy coward – a thug.

The story is at Oregonlive, HERE

His Myspace page shows him sitting on his motorbike, under the slogan Ride hard or don’t ride at all.


All Bock posts on AJ Hanlon HERE


Delivering  Justice

I believe that everyone should be held accountable. Justice must always be public, accessible and fair. Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.

Walter M. Beglau

Marion County District Attorney


Andrew’s family have set up a fund to help with their costs.  If you’d like to contribute, these are the details.

Account name: Kate Hanlon re Andrew Hanlon Home Fund

Account number; 08376045

Sort code; 93 13 30

Bank; AIB Terenure, Dublin



AJ Hanlon 1988 – 2008  RIP


Mel Castelo:

Andrew was gentle and kind, even timid at times.
He froze at any type of confrontation or violence.
He had an ethereal imagination and loved to tell made up stories and he adored art.
He expressed himself greatly through drawing and painting.

Andrew James Hanlon.
A boy with a heart too big for this world,
an eagerness to make anyone smile or laugh
and eyes, big wondrous eyes
eyes that allowed you to see love, curiosity, compassion, sensitivity
even sadness, confusion and his inner struggle to make sense of it all.
But most of all – you could see hope.
Hope for a better tomorrow
and a brighter future.
A future that will no longer be.

Our hearts are shattered,
our souls are lost and
our spirits are broken.

We’d like to thank all those who have Andrew and our family in your thoughts and prayers.

God Bless,
Andrew’s aunt in California

The Egan Family:

Its a long time since we last met Dorothea and the Hanlons. AJ was only a toddler then. Lovely family and great kids: Melanie Jane, Eamonn Thomas and Mary Kate (as we knew them) Danielle not born back then. We knew the kids dad, Eamonn, thru family.

No one knows the full facts here but lets be straight about what we do know : AJ was riddled with bullets by this part-time police officer. No other shots have been fired either by AJ or other officers. Now think about that. Either the cop is trigger-happy or a coward!. An unarmed man! Why didn’t he simply wing him if he wanted to apprehend him.

Thousands of Irish parents including us, worry to death when we see off our kids at the Airport on their way to the States because life and attitudes have changed so much over there. Never mind the number of freaks at every corner, now the various police forces in the US seem to have been given or have assumed new powers/rules of engagement since 9/11. Lots of reports and anecdotal evidence from people who have lived and worked there tells us that the USA is fast becoming a police state.

Comments about AJ’s mental state, I believe, were off the cuff with no real diagnosis by a professional. Most teens, early 20s etc, have mental issues. Like us all in the past we have to grow up, get thru our anger, self doubt, paranoia etc..

Anyway, the bottom line: He was just a kid and he has been killed unnecessarily. I hope that cop can live with his conscience. AJ may have needed help but I cant believe, in any circumsances, that he needed to be shot to death.

RIP AJ and al our love to Dorothea, kids, Eamonn and extended family from Ger, Gina, Jamie, Ritchie and Keith Egan. Will be in touch..

Brian Keenan-Hall:

I knew Andrew Hanlon very well as I was his landlord for a couple of years. I remember the first time I met Andrew how much I taken by his gentleness and lovely soft accent. He was the essence of ability and courtesy in all his dealings with me. He was a big soft Kid with no agression in him.
He came from a good family, albeit his parents were seperated. So what ? Andrew was very well reared and it showed.

I am sixty nine years old and I could have wrestled Andrew to the ground or have had a darn good try. So why all the shooting ? The police officer in this case is either a class A coward or a man who should not be given a gun.

This was a harmless young man and his life should not haved ended in this manner. People in Ireland are astounded at this abuse of power by one of your law officers and we will not accept any cover up of the truth. Andrew was unarmed I understand (As I would expect)


I knew Andrew very well and he was a lovely gentle lad with the biggest puppy dog eyes you ever saw.

When his mum and stepdad got married me and my mum attended the wedding and babysat for 2 weeks whilst his mum and dad honeymooned.  I took him and his sister Kate back and forth to school every day and even took Andrew to a kind of open day when he was changing schools.  Everyone thought I was his dad.

I can still see him coming down the lane with his little friend and my heart aches.

It also aches when I read about how he came from a troubled background.  This family could not be more loving and close and Andrew had a loving upbringing and was a happy child.  Don’t believe everything you read in the press.  Take it from someone who has known the family for 20 years or so.

God bless you Doro and all the family our thoughts and prayers are with you


I really liked working with him while he was here.  I was saddened to come back from a trip to find out he was gone.  I always waved to him around town when I saw him after we were not working together anymore. He reminded me of one of my favorite characters from a book.

God be with you my Prince Carrick.  I will miss you.


Kevin Lierman:

We love you A.J.

We, the young people of Silverton will defend, your honor, your character, and your dignity until the end. We will not sit down, we will not shut up. We will not let this be brushed over. We will stand in solidarity with you and your family until the truth is known.  You are an innocent beautiful person. We know you and love you and will see that your reputation is not soiled by evil and deception.

Jane Stone:

to Kevin Lierman and every young adult in Silverton who loved Andrew.  Your dedication to your beloved friend Andrew has been mind bending.  Am so sorry I forgot to mention this in my recent post.  You ARE THE ONES who got this going already, and I wish the people in Ireland could all know the work on his street memorial,  the picketing of police station, the vigils you’ve held night after night by the spot where andrew was killed.

Of course you ARE THE ONES WHO WILL LEAD US ON.  How did i miss this? Every single one of these young Silverton adults I’ve had contact with since Andrew died must be just like him  Every one of these kids walks with integrity, compassion and soul.  I am so very very proud of them.  Ireland,  please send these kids your love, ok? Yhey have been working so hard, day and night since Andrew was killed.


Video Reports

Local people talk about Andrew

A friend remembers Andrew

Public response in Silverton

More Public response

Memorial service






Daily Astorian

The City of Silverton

Silverton Police Department

Irish Examiner

Of Death and Conscience

The Oregonian

Mental Health Portland

Crime Favourites Policing

Irish Criminals : Enemies of the State


You might have noticed in recent times that a bunch of lowlife knackers have been giving Limerick a bad name, and we genuine Limerick folk are getting very pissed off about it. Very pissed off indeed.

On one hand, we have our local scumbag knackers shooting each other and dealing drugs. This is compounded by some lawyers who ought to know better but who clearly don’t, offering to mediate with these brutal thugs in an attempt to halt their feud. One lawyer in particular, John Devane, went on radio to offer his services in holding talks with the scumbags, and drew down a storm of rage on his head from appalled Limerick people who couldn’t believe the shite he was talking. No doubt infuriated by the sheer stupidity of the man, one caller after another challenged his proposal, which seemed to involve persuading the savages to halt their mutual murdering without addressing the real problem: the fact that these people are drug-dealing, organised criminals.

On the other hand, we have a slice of the national Dublin-based media taking yet another opportunity to switch off their coke-addled brains and indulge in the thing they do best: lazy stereotyping of Limerick.

This is astonishing hypocrisy: the people who should be carrying out the analysis and asking politicians the hard questions will settle instead for tired clichés and hackneyed shots of rundown estates with dirty old horses wandering around the greens. As if they didn’t have the same problem in Dublin and Cork and Waterford and right across the country. Not to mention right across Britain.

Even those writers with a bit of sense are in on the act. Here’s Úna Mulally writing in the Sunday Tribune:

… an entire generation of young Limerick men and women are revelling in the gangster lifestyle


An idiot, inbred subculture has adopted this lifestyle, not an entire generation of young Limerick men and women as Una states. Not my son. Not my daughter. Not any of their friends. Not the thousands of University students in this city. Not the artists. Not the sports people. Not the Olympic oarsmen and boxers. Not the musicians. Not the craftspeople. Not the theatre companies. Not the writers, nor the composers, nor the painters. Not the Irish Chamber Orchestra nor the World Music Centre. Not the honest hardworking people of my town. Not the Limerick people who routinely lift the nation’s heart with their European rugby success.

None of these are revelling in a gangster lifestyle.

A bunch of hopeless thugs have adopted this lifestyle and I’m sick and tired of being placed in the same category as these inbred fools by people too lazy to come here and find out the facts for themselves. People who prefer to take refuge in cliché and platitude.

I repeat: a few hundred worthless knackers, not the entire generation of Úna’s imagining. The other 80,000 of us are normal, decent citizens just like anyone else, but I suppose nobody on the Tribune’s editorial staff is going to question this kind of trite, predigested nonsense. It’s easier than thinking, and that’s Irish journalism for you, secure in its smug bubble.

In the third corner, we have an inert, imagination-free government, who haven’t one single clue how to deal with the vile phenomenon sweeping our country: a savage, welfare-addicted, delinquent underclass who give not one flying fuck about you, me or anyone else. A bunch of useless, fat, ignorant, boorish fucking numpties who each breed dozens of fat, ignorant, aggressive, stupid knacker-clone children, supported by my taxes and yours. Fuckers wrongly referred to as working class. Listen: I’m working class, as was my father and his father. We worked. The bastards you’re instructed to call working class these days have no intention of working, just as their forebears never worked. In their world, a father can be 14 years old, a grandfather 28, a great-grandfather 42, and a great-great-grandfather 56. A violent, scumbag great-great-grandfather. In America, they call them rednecks or white trash, and anyone who tells me not to label them can fuck off, because I’m sick of the whole fucking lot of them.

Finally, let’s not forget the PC Gestapo, who’ll shout you down every time you call a scumbag a scumbag or a knacker a knacker. These are the good people who’ll tell you all about human rights, as long as those rights belong to the fat, illiterate, stupid, etc etc. But they won’t tell you much about your rights when a member of the criminal underclass decides to stab you, or assault you, or smash your window and steal your hard-earned property, or sell drugs to your children. They won’t be saying anything about pricks like the skobe in this town who hides his €70k jeep around the corner from the welfare office before he signs on to collect his dole. These are the people who’ll lecture you about children at risk, neglecting to tell you what at risk really means: at risk of getting caught by the police after robbing you or beating you up. At risk of shooting you.

Let me say something about rights.

Rights are not automatic. Somebody who feels no allegiance to this country, who damages his community, who organises crime, who assaults his neighbours, is an enemy of our society. And it seems to me that there’s something deeply wrong when a society affords its enemies the same rights as compliant, contributing, civic spirited citizens. This is the path to society’s destruction. This is insanity.

We need to wake up and realise that these criminals have no principles, no human feeling, no remorse and no fear, because society’s response to them has been emasculated by the PC Gestapo. We need no negotiation with these groupings. We need the full power of the State apparatus to come down on them with a steel fist and smash them. Remember, you aren’t dealing with a subtle Yakuza here. You’re dealing with a bunch of ill-educated, semi-literate lowlifes, cunning and violent, but punks nevertheless.

Unfortunately, we also suffer from an incompetent, corrupt police force who prefer to bully lawabiding citizens for minor infringements and this is something that needs to be tackled urgently. We need a proper, modern, professional police force that we can trust to come down hard on thugs without misusing its power against the innocent. That means dismantling and rebuilding the police force we have.

While the thoughts of South Africa’s Security Minister might be extreme, I must admit a little Michael Douglas somewhere deep inside me gave a cheer when I read what she told police during the week.

You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or the community. You must not worry about the regulations.

I want no warning shots, you have one shot and it must be a kill shot.

I will not tolerate any pathetic excuses for you not being able to deal with crime, you have been given guns, now use them.

If criminals dare to threaten the police or the livelihood or lives of innocent men, women and children, then they must be killed.

Now that’s extreme, and I’m not advocating wholesale slaughter of criminals, though I must admit part of me would like to see it happening, but what I am advocating is this:

Stop them in the streets. Demand to know how a 17 year old can afford a €100,000 jeep. If he has no explanation, take it off him and scrap it.

Go through the title documents of their many houses. Demand to see the paperwork. Don’t accept excuses. If they’re beneficial owners without paper, take the houses. Knock them.

Investigate their welfare payments. Investigate their public housing. Find out if they deserve them.

Don’t give them free legal aid. Determine their means and make them pay just like you and me.

Take away their comfort. Arrest them for shouting. Arrest them for spitting. Arrest them for having bad dress sense. Demolish them. Wear them down. If the local cops are frightened to act and they are, because the savages know where they live bring in cops from outside, with balaclavas, Tasers, pepper spray and attack dogs.

Every time an underage child commits a crime, arrest his parents. Charge them. Jail them and put their children in care.

Get police out of their cars and onto the streets. Straighten out the coppers in this town who spend the night cruising peaceful leafy suburbs and eating doughnuts so they won’t have to confront trouble outside clubs and pubs. Sack them. Replace them with competent cops.

Appoint properly qualified people to run the police force, not hoary old bastards from a bygone age.

Get technology in there. At present, our police haven’t one clue about information technology: if you’re too fat or stupid to work the streets, they put you in the IT department. That’s how old-fashioned and incompetent our police force is. How corrupt it is.

To government, I’d say, sort it out. Recognise that the situation you confront is like a subversive threat, and treat it accordingly, without mercy. Squeeze these bastards back to the stone-age where they came from.


Post Script

Losing hearts and minds …

After writing this last night I went out for a pint. Just after midnight, the fearless defenders of law and order arrived at the front door of a quiet establishment where there’s never any trouble and peremptorily ordered the owner to clear the premises forthwith.

So there you have the management standards of our police force in one officious little vignette.

The Garda Síochána: tackling crime where there is none.



Limerick Photos

Limerick Photos 2

Limerick Teenagers Earn Millions in Software Deal

Munster 19 London Wasps 3

Impact Theatre Company

A day on the town

Save the Planet:. Spread AIDS




Policing Politics World

Jean Charles de Menezes

Leave aside all the nitpicking details for a minute.

Jean Charles deMenezes I know the police said he jumped over the barrier, when in reality he paid for his ticket with a credit card and walked through.

I know the police said he ran away from them and that it later turned out he did nothing of the sort.

I know they claimed to have shouted warnings when in fact they did not.

I know they said he was wearing bulky clothing that could have hidden a bomb, when in fact he was lightly dressed.

I know they tried to blacken his character in an attempt to divert attention from their own failures.

And I realise there’s the small fact that he was a completely innocent man.


I know all that and I can understand it. People tell all sorts of lies when they’re afraid of being found out.

Here’s what I really don’t understand: how many times do you need to shoot somebody at close range in the head with exploding bullets before you’re sure he’s dead? I mean, after his head explodes the first time, wouldn’t you conclude that he was no longer a threat?

Not the Metropolitan Police, it seems.

How many times did the Metropolitan Police fire head-exploding bullets into Jean Charles deMenezes before they were certain he no longer represented a threat?





Three times?




Well, even though Jean Charles de Menezes had no head left, the Metropolitan Police were still uncertain whether or not he was dangerous, so they shot him a sixth time, again in the non-existent head, with exploding bullets.

Professionals that they are, the Met were still not satisfied. Well, this is the best-trained police force in the world, or so they like to remind us, and so the Metropolitan Police were taking no chances. They fired one last hollow-point bullet into the pool of pulp that used to be his head, just to be sure.

Here’s the hollow-point bullet before it hits you:

And here it is after it hits you:

Hmmmm. The bullet that kills you better.

Just to be absolutely sure, they also shot him four more times in a fusillade that lasted about thirty seconds.

have a look at this fella on the left, and then have a look at Jean Charles de Menezes up above.  Is that an uncanny resemblance, as the police say?

No. Of course it isn’t!

That’ll teach those pesky Brazilians to walk around London in string bikinis, looking nothing like Arabs and carelessly getting themselves mistaken for terrorist suspects by acting too casual.  And by being electricians going to work.

Policing Politics Religion

Sikhs, Turbans and the Irish Police

You know what a reasonable, tolerant man I am except when I have to oppress idiots who disagree with me. Everyone knows that I’ll put up with anything except idiocy and intolerance.

So why has this turban thing got me so confused?

A Sikh is refused membership of the Garda reserve because he won’t take off his turban while in uniform. This is Ireland, so everybody instantly adopts entrenched and opposing positions. Insults are thrown.


Religious nutcase!!

Go back to India!

Stupid police!

I’ve heard people saying that the Sikhs’ religion should be respected, that the British police, the Canadian police, the US army, the British army and just about everybody else in the world allow Sikhs to wear their turbans while on duty.

This is true.

People will tell you that Sikhs are civic-spirited and decent people who have shown great courage in both World Wars and whose instinct is to contribute in a positive way to society at large.

This is undoubtedly true.

People say religious practice needs to be respected.

This is less true, though Sikhism seems to be at the fairly harmless end of the scale. Look at Rastafarianism, a religion that believes Haile Selassie – a dead, mass-murderering despot – is God. While you’re at it, look at the majority religion on this island, Catholicism. The followers of this religion worship a biscuit.

What to think? I don’t know.

On the one hand, the turban is an integral part of what it means to be a Sikh. It’s an article of faith, so to speak. Furthermore, we need diversity in all our public services – not just the police. And what harm can it be to allow the turban? That’s one thing I’m thinking.

The other thing I’m thinking is, why? What’s so important about any religion that it should get a free pass? Sikhs, I’m thinking, are fairly inoffensive people, except when they’re assassinating Indian heads of state and the like. They don’t try and tell me what to do with my private life. They’re law-abiding, upright and honest, so why not let them wear the symbol of their religion? Well, I answer myself, because that’s all it is: a religion.

It isn’t a race. It’s a religion.

Now I’m in a quandary.

What to think?

Well, I remember the Catholic maniacs who used to roam this land not so long ago and who are now merely hibernating. Suppose one of these guys decides to join the Garda Reserve? Suppose some quasi-fascist asshole like the revolting Justin Barrett should decide to oppress me in the name of his demented religion? And supposing the Justin-thing should decide that a uniform was the very thing to rally his supporters around him. And supposing the Justin-creature decided that his religion gave him the right to wear a cross on his uniform as a sign of his faith? And supposing this cross was a very special cross, with four equal-length legs, and little kinks at the end of them?

Well, that’s why, unfortunately, at the moment I’m tending to think the Sikhs should not be allowed to wear their turbans as part of a police uniform. Not because I have anything against them. I don’t. In fact, I think they’re generally a fine bunch of people.

It’s because I don’t see why any religion should be entitled to special treatment, and because, if a special exemption was made for Sikhs, our own home-grown fundamentalist dip-sticks would abuse it.

I am open to having my opinion changed about all this, however.

Now, on the positive side, I think Sikhs are exempt from the turban rule when they swim, though I’m not sure what the rule is about visiting outer space. I know the Guards have no interplanetary division, except at senior management level, but they do a lot of river- and sea-searches. Maybe he could join the sub-aqua unit. They might give him a reserve tank.

Crime gardai Policing Scandal

Worst police force in Europe

Did you ever hear of Frank Shortt?

Probably not, but I won’t be long telling you who he is.

Frank Shortt owned a bar in Donegal, and in 1995 he was convicted of allowing drugs to be sold on his premises. The bastard, you might say. Indeed.

In its judgement last Wednesday, the Irish Supreme Court increased an earlier award to Frank Shortt for miscarriage of justice from 1.93 million euros to 4.5 million euros.

He was imprisoned, lost his business, his family and his health and was struck off as an accountant because Irish policemen lied to put him in jail. As Mr Justice Hardiman remarked in his judgement, Frank Shortt was “perjured into prison” by the Irish police.

This was one of the most damning judgements ever handed down by the Irish Supreme Court and continues a long line of disastrous investigations into the most inept and corrupt police force in Europe.

You only have to read the Morris report to see what these guys are like.

Here’s Mr Justice Morris, quoted in an earlier post:

The Tribunal has been staggered by the amount of indiscipline and insubordination it has found in the Garda force. There is a small, but disproportionately influential, core of mischief-making members who will not obey orders, who will not follow procedures, who will not tell the truth and who have no respect for their officers.

These are the people we pay to stand between us and the criminals. Maybe we should reconsider. Maybe we need to pay criminals to stand between us and the Guards. Maybe there isn’t any difference.


Gardai Deny Farting at Suspect

Gardai Deny Everything

Who Killed Richie Barron?

Freddy’s Back

Do you know your Daddy’s a murderer?

Police and thieves

The Heart of Darkness

Worst police force in Europe

Three tragic deaths

The Cannibal Murders

Anti-social behaviour orders

Non-lethal weapons

Oh those funny old Guards

The Professionals

Losing hearts and minds

kick it on

Crime Policing


Years and years ago, our house in Dublin was broken into. The thief didn’t get much because we didn’t have much, but he took a treasured clock which was a present from a relative.

Police came.

They took measurements and photos. They took fingerprints. They took notes and statements.

They caught somebody.

I received a summons to turn up at the Circuit Court as a witness and, never having been inside a courthouse in my life, I didn’t know what to do, so I asked my friend, the Samoan Attorney.

What’ll I do?

Haw, haw, haw he haw-hawed in his best Law Library haw-haw. Go out and have yourself a motherfucker of a meal. Claim for a day’s lost wages and hand the bill to the court clerk.

I did nothing of the sort, because in those days I had some principles. In those days I didn’t know that everybody in the government was crooked and robbing the country blind, so I did my bit to keep us afloat. Probably, by forbearing to buy a motherfucker of a lunch, I might have paid for the cuff of a Charvet shirt for Haughey.

I just turned up in court, in my poorly-fitting, cheap and rarely-used suit.

They swore in a jury. They sent them away. There was an old judge, whose name I can’t remember, and he read the book of evidence. He looked it over, and he addressed the police.

You arrested this man because you found his fingerprints on the outside of the window and yet he stated that he had never heard of this address. This proves one of three things. He might be a liar, he might have a bad memory, or the Gardai might be liars. The book of evidence provides grounds for gross suspicion, but the day we start imprisoning people on the grounds of gross suspicion is the day we have a police state.

I was deeply impressed by this old judge and I agreed with every word he said. I agreed with him when he dismissed the case against the skobe who had robbed me. Better for a skobe to walk free with my treasured clock than for the State to imprison an innocent person.

All these years later, I think otherwise.

These days, I think we need to be jailing these cunts on any pretext we can find, but I also think we can’t start doing that until we have a professional police force we can trust. That’s something we don’t have, unfortunately. And that’s why skobes will continue to walk free.

gardai Policing

Police and thieves

I see that the membership of an Garda Siochana are upset at the prospect of our having a police reserve. They don’t think it’s a good thing to have amateurs carrying out a policing role, and, instead, they want more trained Guards on the streets to fight crime.

All well and good, but here’s a curious paradox for you: even though this is true, the Gardai are still talking bullshit. To understand why, you have to analyse carefully the words in the first paragraph, because certain unwarranted assumptions are being made there. Dangerous assumptions, based on complacency and mental laziness, not to mention dishonesty.

Firstly, as far as using amateurs in a policing role goes, where’s the evidence that we have anything but rank amateurs at the moment? This is a force which is capable of setting the most astonishing priorities for the use of its supposedly limited resources. Such as? Well, for instance such as sending four or five police to break into a house at dawn and arrest a woman for non-payment of a parking fine! If you don’t believe me, scan recent news reports about this case. Not only did they drag the woman from her bed, handcuff her and force her into a police car, they then crashed the car and injured their prisoner, who was duly awarded damages by a court of law. What??

But, you’ll say, that’s only one isolated case. Is it? Well, what about the genius strategic planner who decided it was a good idea to raid an alcohol-free teenage disco because it was being held in a hotel bar, even though the bar counter was locked? Or the hero who went camping in the Aran Islands, had a few drinks and later returned to his tent, got into his uniform and promptly raided the pub for serving after hours.

And while we’re on the subject of formidable Garda intellects, could somebody throw light for me on the planning for the Love Ulster march? Anybody?

Hello Mr Guard. Grand stretch in the evening, thanks be to God. Grand stretch right enough.

Oh, hello, Mr March-Organiser. I see the nights are closing in a bit.That’s right. We won’t feel it now till Christmas. No. Look, we were thinkin’ of havin’ a wee bit of a march there, right enough. Wee march.

Were ya now? Gob, there’s great dryin’ out today all the same.

Aye. We were thinkin’ of maybe marchin’ a couple of loyalist bands down O’Connell Street there to the GPO, comin’ up till Easter time, maybe the day of a big Celtic match. And that there.

Right. Right. A kind of march, as such.

Aye. Past that there huge pile of loose bricks. Do you see any problem with that there? Loose pile of bricks and all? Marchin’ bands? Flutes? Sash? Celtic? And that there. Right enough?

Oh God no. There’ll be no problem with that. Not at all. That’ll be grand. Seeya on the day, so. Grand. Fine. Isn’t there a grand stretch in the evening, thank God, all the same?

Yes indeed. All isolated cases.

I’m beginning to feel weary.

I was in a quiet pub not too long ago, just on closing time on a Tuesday night, when two Guards walked in, ordered everybody out and waited in the street until the place was empty. That was their priority at 11:30 on a Tuesday night in Limerick. To clear six or seven people from a pub where there has never been the slightest trouble. And furthermore to wait in the street until all the desperate miscreants had vacated the establishment. Now, this might seem like a trivial matter, and that’s exactly what it is. A small, ridiculous incident. However, I think it illustrates perfectly the hollowness of all this talk about Garda resources. Trained, highly-paid police are using their time in such petty pursuits. It points towards a total absence of any sense of perspective, an inability to manage resources in any meaningful sense, an inability to prioritise and an almost complete lack of management in any modern sense. Another isolated case.

I’m sure everybody has their own isolated cases they could tell you about, and ultimately every example is an isolated case, but so is every arbitrary arrest, every unfounded prosecution and every instance of perjury.

Perjury? Jesus Christ, now he’s calling the Guards liars!

OK. Don’t listen to me, then. Instead have a look at these quotes:

  • the spirit wearies at the lies, obfuscations, concealments and conspiracies to destroy the truth that would be apparent to any reasonable person
  • This entire matter could have been ended within months had there not been a determined effort to conceal the truth in favour of a twisted version of reality
  • This process of investigation has been delayed by contempt for the truth.
  • Some Garda witnesses told lies or simply refused to answer on the basis of a warped interpretation of the right to silence.
  • When an obligation to answer was in place, lies replaced silence. The extent of this was both astonishing and wearisome. It has wasted time and money in abundance.

Who do you think wrote these things? Was it some rabid kaftan-weaving peace-marching Ego Worrier, such as my good self? No. It was not. The author of these remarks was, in fact, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, President of the High Court, and he expressed these views in May 2005, in his report on the Donegal Garda division. Less than a year ago.

Don’t get me wrong. I think we need a strong professional police force. I just don’t think we have one. Instead of a police force, it seems to me that we have a clan, a tribe, which regards the rest of society with suspicion and approaches people sometimes with undisguised aggression. Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of boorish, disrespectful behaviour by some Guard on a power trip? Annoying though such an experience can be, I’m afraid this has a more worrying consequence. Any force such as our own must police by consent, and unfortunately it seems that many members of the force are busily eroding the support of the very law-abiding people they need on their side.

It seems to me that the root of this problem lies in the culture of the training regime. Many guards in a quieter moment will tell you that they learned in Templemore to see everybody as a potential criminal. Often overlooked and, to my mind, very revealing is the terminology used by our police force in referring to individual officers. Do you know of another country where police refer to each other as “members”?


The Heart of Darkness

Worst police force in Europe

Three tragic deaths

The Cannibal Murders

Anti-social behaviour orders

Do You Know Your Daddyââ€â„¢s a Murderer?

Non-lethal weapons

Oh those funny old Guards

The Professionals

Losing hearts and minds