THE effective policing of funerals with military displays is an extremely difficult operation. Moreover, it is also sensitive, in that family, innocent attendees and clergy are of necessity present. Allied to this is the volatile nature of such events.
However, it is imperative that the rule of law be upheld. The objective should be to prevent and thwart such blatant breaches of law and order.
Most citizens, including myself, were at best shocked and at worst frightened at the scenes in Dublin last Saturday. It appeared as if the forces of the State were cast aside and humiliated.
Such police operations require careful and professional planning with effective leadership -- otherwise mayhem and chaos will ensue. The target area should be divided into zones of responsibility. Key areas such as the home, church grounds, cemetery or place of death should receive particular attention with the use of cordons a key element.
In addition, a tight close mobile cordon should be maintained. It comes down to this: the trade-off between upholding the rule of law or the possibility of offending sensibilities.
Intelligence is a key factor and together with ongoing training and professional leadership it provides the capability to prevent a paramilitary display
I don't agree with the view expressed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter that a follow-up investigation will result in a satisfactory outcome. One problem is proving that the firearms used were, in fact, firearms within the meaning of the Firearms Acts. This can only be proved by linking the guns to the incident and then tests carried out by experts.
As regards identification, undercover gardai should be deployed with the objective of tailing and identifying suspects should a breach of the law occur.
Snatch squads supported by uniformed gardai should ensure the speedy arrest of suspects and conveyance from the scene to a place of detention.
Prior to deployment, all personnel should be thoroughly briefed. Every garda should be aware of his/her duties and responsibilities, who they are required to report to right up along the line of command.
Such operations are fraught with hazards and unpredictability but the rule of law must prevail otherwise we have tyranny.
With training, effective leadership and good intelligence I have no doubt the gardai have the capacity and willingness to ensure the scenes we saw last Saturday will not be repeated.
Michael Carty is a former garda chief superintendent and ex-commander of the Emergency Response Unit