Law and order party loses its reputation
Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30
'When the law and order party is back in power, the thugs will be out of business.'
It's a decade since then opposition leader Enda Kenny made this pledge at Fine Gael's 73rd ard fheis in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin in May 2006. The delegates whooped and hollered in agreement with his promise of a clampdown on criminals.
Mr Kenny used one of his celebrated folksy tales to illustrate the fear of crime when he spoke of a meeting with a woman who was afraid to open her door after dark.
"When it comes to law and order, this Government is living in a parallel universe. Ireland deserves better," he proclaimed.
And Ireland certainly deserves better after five years of Fine Gael in charge of our criminal justice system.
Also living in a parallel universe is Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who yesterday declared the burglary rate is falling.
She was embarrassingly forced to admit she can't present figures to back up her claims. The minister's statement that "we are winning" clearly isn't believed by those who are forking out thousands to secure their homes.
Fine Gael had a well-established record as the "law and order party", with the citizens of this country served honourably by figures like Kevin O'Higgins, Seán MacEoin and Paddy Cooney. These were Ministers for Justice who stood firmly by the State when it faced far more fundamental threats than robber gangs preying on innocent people in their homes.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny returns to the same venue this weekend to again address the party grassroots at a pre-election ard fheis. A commitment he needs to make to the public is that his party will address its failings in the justice area if it is returned to office.
During his present term in office, Fine Gael became better known as the 'lawless and disorder party' following the various controversies which saw several high-profile figures resign and a collapse in public confidence in the ability of the State to protect citizens in their homes.