Wednesday 28 September 2016

We need to know that gardaí can do their job

Published 28/05/2016 | 02:30

Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily
Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily

You know you have a policing problem when people complain about their absence on the street, yet every time you turn on a news bulletin in recent days, the Garda Commissioner is there attempting to explain or account for one controversy or another.

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It's close to two decades since the murder of Veronica Guerin. Veronica's murder crossed the line. Once given the resources, the gardaí struck back with a vengeance on behalf of decent society.

But that was then. Today, it is easier than ever to get drugs on any street in the country.

The response from the Government and the Minister for Justice has been that the closure of garda stations and the slashing of numbers has nothing to do with any of this. The gardaí are well-resourced, the Taoiseach tells us.

But an inconvenient truth for Mr Kenny and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is that the rank-and-file gardaí don't agree. Celebrated crime writer Raymond Chandler wrote: "Police business is a hell of a problem. It's a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there's nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get." What we get isn't quite cutting it. Whatever the Government says, years of cuts have allowed a new culture of crime to thrive.

It is colder, more brutal and far more threatening than anything we have seen before. A billion-euro crime corporation is currently threatening to wipe out a Dublin family in a crime war. Seven people have already died. Narco-terrorism has come to our shores while the forces of law and order were caught napping. Meanwhile, the Policing Authority, the body set up to oversee the Garda Síochána's policing functions, has issued a damning critique of the management of our gardaí. Its chairwoman, Josephine Feehily, has made it commendably plain: "The recurring deficiencies in policing performance evidenced in the O'Higgins final report are deeply troubling." We know, as sure as one murder follows another, that there are criminals lying awake thinking of how to kill people; what we need to know is that there are also people in Government and the gardaí with the wherewithal to stop them.

Access to broadband is a basic requirement for all

Lack of access to broadband is not actually just an issue for rural Ireland. It affects the entire country and will be a vital component of development of our society and economy for generations to come.

The problems associated with the imbalance in regional development have manifested themselves in many ways. Primarily, people from rural areas are forced to move to large towns and cities to find work, creating knock-on consequences in terms of housing, transport and public services in urban areas. The technology now exists to allow people to work from home or near to home, as never before.

In a shrinking world, in many jobs it doesn't matter whether you're based in Los Angeles, Lahore or Lahinch. The failure to afford people this opportunity is to deny them what is now a basic requirement of modern life.

Today, the Irish Independent begins our 'Broadband Now' campaign for access to broadband for every home and business in the country, to force this issue up the political agenda. With the right political will, access to broadband can be a right, like having a phoneline, it can be provided within three years and the funding can be granted.

Broadband is, quite simply, a national priority.

Irish Independent

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