Their so-called investigation into the death of Donegal man Richie Barron has turned out to be a cesspool of all that is rotten and corrupt about our police force; harassment, intimidation and attempts to frame the McBrearty family - you'll have read about it elsewhere so there's no need to go in to the details here. Their punishment -a transfer to Dublin! What an insult to the people of both Donegal and Dublin.
What about John McGinley or Joe Shelley -have you heard of them? They were both senior officers criticised in the Morris report who were punished by ....being allowed to retire on full pension! Noel Conroy? He's the current Garda Commissioner who on 10th May in his submission to the Morris Tribunal claimed that the investigation into Richie Barron's death was carried out "in an efficient and thorough manner" (This is the same investigation which Justice Morris called "shocking" and "scandalous").
Furthermore Conroy was head of the cops' "Crime and Security Division "from 1992 to 1994 at a time when, according to the first Morris report "....the direction of Crime and Security was not such as to inspire confidence." You've heard of Michael McDowell? As Attorney General he did his level best to ensure that the Morris Tribunal was never established. As Minister for Justice he totally ignored the recommendations of the first Morris report.
The stench of corruption from the cops is overwhelming and goes right to the very top.
As well as the gross dishonesty and rottenness which has been exposed in Donegal and which everyone now knows about, there are also several other high-profile cases which show that this dishonesty is extremely widespread 14-year-old Brian Rossiter died in garda custody in Clonmel Co Tipperary almost 3 years ago. The response of Garda authorities, Noel Conroy as Garda Commissioner and Michael McDowell as Minister for Justice was reminiscent of the response years earlier to the Donegal situation - a response characterised by delay, denial and cover-up. Only now, grudgingly, is McDowell establishing an inquiry into what happened to Brian Rossiter.
In June of this year,a 20-year-old man from Dublin's inner city, Terence Wheelock, spent over 2 weeks in a coma in the Mater hospital after receiving injuries while in garda custody in Store Street. No explanation of how he received his injuries has yet been given.
In May 2002,cops openly battered participants at a Reclaim the Streets Party on Dublin's Dame Street. When a number of cops were charged as a result, their colleagues rallied around in the manner of the three monkeys -See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Say No Evil.
The constant refrain from garda witnesses at the trials was 'I saw nuthin'.
In September 2000,a constituent of current Environment Minister, Dick Roche complained to him that he had been beaten by gardai, and showed him the bruises to prove it. Roche made a statement in support of his constituent. However the senior garda appointed to investigate the complaint on behalf of the Garda Complaints Board deemed Roche's statement not worthy of inclusion in the relevant file .If senior cops can decide to ignore the statements of politicians, how much more can they decide to ignore complaints and statements made by ordinary working class people.
Indeed,there were 1,232 complaints made to the Garda Siochana Complaints Board in 2004, which represents an increase of nearly 5%on the 2003 figure of 1,175.And,as we all know, many people don't bother making complaints because we are all too well aware that it is usually a waste of time as the cops end up investigating themselves. Garda brutality is all too common and is encountered on a regular basis, especially by working-class youths. Garda corruption is nothing new and even though the Dail has now passed Michael McDowell's Garda Bill, the Gardai will continue to be unaccountable to ordinary people.
Corruption among the cops is not just a case of a 'few rotten apples'. The entire orchard is infected. Ultimately, the Garda Siochana exists to protect the private property and wealth of big business, to uphold the status quo. It might take ages for the cops to respond if your house is burgled but they'll turn up fairly quickly if you put a picket on your workplace or blockade a bin truck. It's because they exist to protect the status quo that they know they can get away with almost anything with the blessing of political paymasters.
by Shuana Maguire
This edition is No87 published in July 2005