'Put your phone away, keep the pictures off Facebook and leave gardai to do their jobs in peace'
Last week a garda conference heard a number of motions regarding gardaí having their photos taken and posted on social media. Here, one garda describes his experience and urges members of the public not to film him on duty:
Let me set the scenario, you are out on a Saturday night with your friends. During the night out you come across the Gardai arresting a drunk person and during the arrest a scuffle happens.
What is the first thing you think of? Are the Gardai ok? Do they need help? No, you take out your mobile phone and record them without their permission. Then, again without their permission, you post your video on social media.
While you may think there is nothing wrong with this, as a member of An Garda Siochana, I can tell you, what you have done is very wrong morally.
How would you like it if I came to your workplace, recorded you in the course of your work, posted it on Facebook without your permission? I bet, you wouldn't be too happy about me invading your privacy like that.
But I hear you say what is the harm in posting videos of Gardai online? Why not ask the young lad who was accosted at a GAA match last week because his father is a guard.
Or talk to members who were targeted by those during the water protests, putting up their faces on Facebook and offering rewards, yes rewards for their names and addresses.
Imagine the stress and mental problems that caused. Working as a guard is hard enough without having to worry about your face showing up on some social media platform without your permission.
How many off-duty Gardai are assaulted on a weekly basis simply because they are Gardai? Then there are those who are assaulted on duty because they wear a blue uniform and have sworn to protect the citizens of this country, even those who do not want us protecting them.
We do a job that not many would. For the vast majority of us we want to do it anonymously. We do not want our faces all over the internet. We do not want our families worrying that a certain element of society knows our name, what we look like and at times where we live.
Many Gardai sign up without telling those closest to them for many reasons. And to have their faces plastered all over the internet, not only causes them stress but also their families.
So the next time you see members of An Garda Siochana at work and decide to record them, ask yourself these questions; would you like your face all over social media without your permission and am I going to cause any extra stress to those Gardai if I post this video online?
If you can not answer these questions truthfully, put your phone away and leave the Gardai to do their jobs in peace.