Monday 24 October 2016

Society is paying the price for leaders turning their backs

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

Scene of last week's gun murder
Scene of last week's gun murder

With the seventh murder committed by gunmen during the past week, it seems everyone wants to have, or has already had, their say, be it TV, radio or newspaper reporters.

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I mean no disrespect to the communicators mentioned, but I must admit it is a source of annoyance to hear each one ask: "What can we do about it?"

Everyone knows why we are in this situation. It is not the fault of any one political party, it is the fault and shame of them all. When the so-called leaders of our country turn their backs on the poorest, most under-privileged and least educated members of society and then assume that everything will somehow work out OK, we deserve all that is rained down upon us.

A wounded hungry animal is the most dangerous in the jungle, though we may not want to accept this is so. We all live in a jungle of sorts, so when we treat people with little respect we are guaranteed to be repaid in the same way.

When was the last time you heard or read about seven gun murders in the likes of Foxrock, Dalkey or Donnybrook?

In a few weeks' time this will all be forgotten, after the mouthpieces of Leinster House have with so much sincerity expressed their heartfelt grief for those cut down, their life blood flowing on our streets.

No doubt something will conveniently come up: perhaps the rights of our bankers or bond-holders or some well-educated, pin-striped criminal developer. When this happens, the inner city will go back to what it always was, forgotten and of no importance.

So don't ask yourself what turns young people to crime, because we already know the answer. Innocent or guilty, we all pay the price in the end. It's like the Lotto advert says: "It could be you."

Fred Molloy, Dublin 15

Mary Lou's missed chance

I see that soaring rhetoric has made an impressive return to Dáil Éireann in the shape of Sinn Féin leader-in-waiting Mary Lou McDonald. She made a particularly eloquent contribution the other day, castigating Fianna Fáil over Irish Water. People shared her speech on social media and praised its shining brilliance.

I'm puzzled, though, and can't understand why Ms McDonald didn't seek to become Minister for the Environment after the recent election. I thought she would have used everything she had, especially her 23 seats, to get such a prize.

She could have signed the order to abolish Irish Water herself. Could it be that YouTube clicks and Facebook likes are a softer option to pursue?

Brian Ahern, Meadow Copse, Dublin 15

It's looking good for Euro 2016

Is 2016 the year of underdog sporting champions? A few weeks ago, Leicester City defied the odds and won the English Premier League, their first ever top-level championship after being in existence for 132 years.

On Saturday, Connacht pulled off an equally admirable feat, beating Leinster in the Guinness Pro 12 final in Edinburgh, their first major trophy in their 121-year history.

Could this be Mayo's year for Sam, having not won an All-Ireland since 1951? Or how about Roscommon, who had a very good run in the Football League? They have been waiting for an All-Ireland since 1944.

While we are at it, it must be the Republic of Ireland's turn to win the European Championships.

Tommy Roddy, Salthill, Galway

Garda reform a priority

According to the Policing Authority, the pressing performance and public confidence issue with An Garda Síochána is defined by the findings and recommendations contained in the O'Higgins Report - the latest crisis, of many, over several decades.

This occurs against a background of a weak and faltering ministerial performance on the issue in the Dáil over several weeks.

When the Garda Síochána Inspectorate was established in 2006, the public were advised that its function was to independently benchmark the overall policing performance of An Garda Síochána and to promote best practice in all its core operations. The Inspectorate would not only assist An Garda Síochána to achieve the highest standards but, as recommended in 2008 by the Morris Tribunal, would provide an objective assessment of the performance of the force.

Last December, the independent Garda Síochána Inspectorate published its 12th report, a detailed and far-reaching document titled Changing Policing in Ireland and containing many recommendations for radical and far-reaching change.

The analysis in this report acknowledged that the perceived culture of An Garda Síochána - slowness to change, insularity and defensiveness are major impediments - but recommended that the Deputy Commissioner with responsibility for governance and strategy should lead the culture change necessary to ensure alignment with the force's policing plan and reform programme.

The measurement and assessment of culture would require the Deputy Commissioner to gather and analyse data from and about all grades and ranks in the force. The response of the Policing Authority is to direct the Garda Commissioner to appoint an independent consultant to audit the culture of An Garda Síochána.

A concerned citizen would expect an agile and competent Policing Authority to create a credible regime of public accountability on the implementation of the Inspectorate's recommendations, not more disinfected verbiage as a prelude to further debate, procrastination and the evasion of fundamental reform. Why is another independent consultant's input desirable, appropriate or necessary?

Public trust in the moral authority and leadership competence of An Garda Síochána is certainly no more robust than it was in the wake of the Morris Tribunal findings.

There is not a scintilla of evidence in the public domain to cause one to believe that any progress is being made to reform the force. The stakeholders most closely involved are clutching at elusive straws to appease an incredulous public.

However, if sustainable and credible reform of An Garda Síochána does not emerge promptly, the risk of the force and those associated with it losing moral authority and credibility is distressingly high.

Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin

We need men like Vickers

Bravo to Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers on his quick response to the protester at the Grangegorman commemoration ceremony.

If only we had more men of his calibre to put manners on certain sections of our society, life might be better for us law-abiding citizens.

Chris Wilkinson, Danesfort, Co Kilkenny

Irish Independent

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