Saturday 24 March 2018

Ahern should give the boys in blue what for

It is simply not the place of the Garda Siochana to be drawing up political battle lines, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

IF THERE was one positive outcome to what Justice Minister Dermot Ahern called the "unprecedented political intervention" by the outgoing president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) at the organisation's conference in Limerick last week, it was the equally unprecedented political agreement which Michael O'Boyce's comments provoked in response. There was rare unanimity as members of all parties and none came together to condemn as dangerous and unacceptable the hysterical characterisation of the Fianna Fail-led coalition as a "government of national sabotage".

No matter how often the offending passages were repeated, the contents of that infamous speech-that-never-was lost none of their power to shock. "A government whose only agenda is to protect the economic traitors" was bad enough. Adding to that, the accusation that Fianna Fail had been "corrupted" by power, "bought" by developers, and had "sacrificed" an entire generation to "protect the people who bankrolled your party and robbed the Irish people", was outrageously incendiary. As Ahern rightly pointed out on Prime Time, if this had happened in the army then it would have been a clear act of mutiny.

We're supposed to live in a democratic country governed by the rule of law, not a tinpot banana republic run by men in uniform; but it's surely a measure of how ugly the public mood has become that there were so many people willing to defend the guards for sticking it to an unpopular government rather than feeling a cold shiver down the spine at the nightmare scenario which was being played out in Limerick's Strand Hotel.

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