Cloud looms over garda debacle as all sides fail to cover themselves in glory
It's a time-honoured tradition of public discourse in Ireland that, whenever such discourse pertains to any of our major institutions of state, due respect must be paid at the outset of one's contribution to the wonderful job done by the vast majority of those providing the service, be they gardai, teachers, nurses or other public servants, and that, of course, the contributor has never had any negative experience whatever with any member of the particular profession under discussion.
Why so, and was it always, one wonders? Recently I happened to appear on the TV3 panel reviewing the day's newspapers on the morning after the publication of the Smithwick report on allegations of collusion between members of An Garda Siochana and the Provisional IRA leading to the deaths of two senior members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1989, and I found myself in a minority of one when responding in the negative to the question of the host, Anton Savage, as to whether the report's publication signified a 'bad day for the force'.
I honestly felt that the findings of the report would have come as little surprise to the citizenry at large and that the frankness of its tone would come as a refreshing change from the predictability to which we have become accustomed in investigations of this type, particularly in the context of the public's acute awareness of the impossibility of absolute integrity in any large grouping of their fellow citizens.