Sunday 21 October 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: No business would have lasted this long if it was run as badly as the Garda

The latest report by the Garda Inspectorate into the force's unsatisfactory handling of child abuse cases makes grim reading, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

'Last week’s publication of a review by the Garda Inspectorate into the force’s handling of child abuse cases adds further fuel to that discontent.'
'Last week’s publication of a review by the Garda Inspectorate into the force’s handling of child abuse cases adds further fuel to that discontent.'

Eilis O'Hanlon

There's a black joke about a man who calls the police in the middle of the night to report a burglary taking place at his house. The dispatcher says they won't be able to get there straight away as no officers are available. The man calls back a few minutes later to say that there's no need to hurry because he's just shot the suspect. Within minutes, the house is flooded with squad cars, who catch the burglar, still in rude health, trying to creep away. "I thought you said you'd shot him," the police say to the caller.

His answer: "And I thought you said no one was available."

The story neatly encapsulates the feeling that the police are never there when needed. It's undoubtedly unfair. An Garda Siochana do what they can, but the impression of being alone in the face of threats to life and property certainly runs deep in rural areas, where, as the Director of Public Prosecutions told the Court of Appeal last week, people are living "in permanent fear or dread".

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