While this Report , at one level , is long overdue in highlighting the limitations in our Police Force , given the demands now being made of it , I am saddened at the media frenzy which has highlighted the negative and sensational, forgetting about the human aspect behind the analysis.
I have worked in the legal world for over 30 years , living most of that time in rural Ireland. I have come to know many members of An Garda Siochana professionally but also socially. I have also encountered them in Voluntary Organisations of which I have been a member.
With some few exceptions – and what walk of life does not have them – I have come across Gardai and Detectives who are decent, caring and in the best sense , ordinary ; who are good parents and supportive friends; who believe in Community Service, even in their personal time by volunteering in Lions Clubs , in the Vincent de Paul, in Sports Clubs and much more.
They have long been doing what at times is a very difficult and unpleasant job and are now struggling to retain pride in the doing of that job, given the damage caused by some of their colleagues , some of their Senior Officers and by successive Governments in under-resourcing them.This Report is another very painful chapter for them.
The huge and valuable changes made over the last 10 to 15 years in the training programmes delivered to recruits in Templemore have, in my experience , given us many young Gardai who have a far greater professionalism than their predecessors. Much of the enthusiasm with which those young professionals come to their first Stations can be quashed in the frustrations they must experience by reason of some of the issues mentioned in the Report. But given the chance under a new approach from Management of the Force , the qualities that I and I’m sure many of us have seen at first hand when we meet them in ordinary life in our Communities, can result in a dedicated and best-of-class Garda Force of which we can all be proud.
Let’s give them a chance !
By Neil Butler